Category: "culture/news"

Escalation

Well, we heard from the President last night. My conversation with Kevin at Voter Vault is continuing. He had a good response to the comment that I pasted here yesterday. Good stuff. I'm not pasting today, so you'll have to go there and read it if you care. I hope this new plan works and my predictions of failure are proved wrong.

Escalation in Iraq

By all accounts, President Bush is going to announce his plan tonight to send more troops to Iraq. I feel fairly strongly that this is a terrible idea. I wrote this as a comment to a post at Voter Vault, but I'm reposting it here with a few more links. Think of it as efficiency rather than laziness.

We must get our news from different places, because I haven't noticed a big appeal to emotion on the part of people opposing this escalation. Here are the reasons I've seen.

1. It was tried in August of this year and it didn't work. The neighborhoods taken by US troops were pacified for a time, but as soon as they left, the violence returned.

2. 20,000 is not enough. McCain says this and he also says that it should be for at least 18 months.

3. There aren't 20,000 more troops to send in. We're already stretched thin with multiple and extended tours.

4. My congressman, Ike Skelton, has been saying that it's way too late for this type of strategy.

5. Abizaid and Casey, the (former) generals on the ground, oppose this plan. Bush has said all along that he'll listen to his generals when it comes to troop levels. Then when they oppose his new plan he kicks them to the curb. He'll say that they've failed and need to be replaced, which may be true, but if you want an example of choosing politics over statesmanship, look no further. This was a brilliant political maneuver. He passed the buck for all those months and now he's using them as a scapegoat for his failed policy. He'll reshuffle the chairs and start the cycle over again.

So, there are five reasons that I think this is not a good move, and none of them are emotional. Do you have some examples of what you're talking about. I did read about Ted Kennedy comparing this to LBJ's escalation in Vietnam. I guess that does invoke the strong feelings related to that war, but I don't think it's far fetched comparison.

If more troops go in I hope it works and things in Iraq improve, but have a hard time believing that it will unfold that way. He's trying to draw to an inside straight and the chips he's pushing in are actual human people with real lives and families. The casino needs to stop serving him drinks and call 1-800-BETS-OFF for him.

If you agree that this escalation is a bad idea, you can sign this petition.

Best. SecDef. Ever.

In his regard for our people in uniform, in his unwavering strength through unprecedented challenges, in his example of leadership and patriotic service, I believe the record speaks for itself: Don Rumsfeld is the finest Secretary of Defense this nation has ever had.
-- Dick Cheney, December 15, 2006

He apparently said that with a straight face. I think that even the first president Bush's Secretary of Defense, dirtbag that he is, was better at the job than Rumsfeld. But Tom Friedman sums it up best:

Think of what happened this week. OK, Dick Cheney, the vice president, stood up at a massive farewell ceremony for, for Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and said he was the greatest secretary of defense in American history. Now, if that is true, either George Bush is a fool or Dick Cheney is a liar, all right? Because either George Bush just fired at the height of a war, at the greatest national security threat of our country’s current era, the greatest secretary of defense in history, or Dick Cheney thinks we’re all walking around with a sign that says “Stupid” on it.
on Meet the Press, December 17, 2006

Appeal for Redress

I'm currently reading The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Frank Rich. It's a collection of all the mistakes, spin, half-truths and outright deceptions of the Bush administration. I remember hearing about a lot of this when it happened, but now that I see it all at once and see the connections, the charges are quite damning.

The elections last month were a clear message from the American public that the war in Iraq is not acceptable. Now there's another group calling for an end to the war: the military. A growing group of active and reserve service men and women (including officers) is signing on to the Appeal for Redress. There strict rules about how someone in the military can dissent, but they do have that right. Appeal for Redress is a way for someone in the service to express their desire for the war to end and still have the full protection of the law. We can support our troops by standing behind those who make this choice.

Comic Vine

Comic Vine has a database of thousands of super heroes, cataloged by their powers. So, if you've ever wondered who was tops in a particular super power, this site can tell you. It's also a wiki, so if you see a gap or a mistake, just click Edit and contribute.

(via Digg)

This American Life

NPR radio show This American Life is now available as a free podcast. I've been wanting to listen to it for a while and I'm really enjoying it now that I can hear it on my commute. Other podcasts on my iPod:

Battlestar Gallactica - Instant DVD commentary for the best sci-fi show on TV.
Meet the Press - Tim Russert refuses to take BS off of anyone.
News Hour - Nightly PBS news show with another great reporter, Jim Lehrer. These are broken up into segments, which is really nice. I listen to the stories I'm interested in, in the order I want.
Now with David Brancaccio - Weekly PBS news magazine that is unabashedly leftist.
Le Show - Harry Shearer of Simpsons fame. Comedy, news and commentary.
Onion Radio News & President's Weekly Radio Address - The Onion is funny in audio form, too. Their Bush speeches are the best, though.
This Week in Tech - Successor to The Screen Savers and the grandfather of all tech podcasts.

I'm not giving links because you can just look in iTunes or your favorite podcast directory if you want to subscribe. There are some other shows on my iPod, but these are the shows that I never miss. Having time to listen to all of this is one good thing about being in my car 8 hours a week.

Force Quit

Rumsfeld Resignation Summarized as a Mac OS X Screenshot:

via Boing Boing and Digg

Election Day

The polls will be opening up in just over 12 hours. I hope everyone remembers to vote tomorrow. I want to specifically mention the Missouri race for US Senate. Very often it feels like one vote doesn't make much difference, but this is turning into a very close race. It's the closest of all the Senate races this year and it may end up deciding which party controls the Senate for the next two years. That means that your vote in this race is very important. And not just in the sense that every vote in every race is important.

Part of what makes Missouri politics so interesting is that we have a healthy population of independent voters. If anyone is still not sure about this race, allow me to make one final plea. Even if you don't feel strongly about either candidate, you can probably agree that we could use some more Congressional oversight in Washington. The Constitution gives Congress the very important duty of checking the power of the executive branch. When they fail at that task the nation can begin down a very dark path. I could throw out some scary words here, but there's no need. I'm sure you understand that a balance of power can be a very good thing. If only for this reason, I hope you'll consider voting for Claire McCaskill. There are lots of other reasons that I think she'll be a good Senator, but I thought that one might appeal to independent voters in particular.

And don't feel bad about Jim Talent being out of work. I'm sure that he'll get offered a high-paying job with his old lobbying firm, Arent-Fox, or with one of the oil or pharmaceutical companies that he's been so supportive of.

Sorry, I couldn't resist that one. Happy democracy, everyone.

3 Steps to Better Democracy

Elections have been on my mind a lot lately, especially ways to improve them. Here are three reforms that could go a long way toward making our Democracy work better.

1. Instant-Runoff Voting - Builds consensus and gives third party candidates a better chance.

2. National Popular Vote Interstate Compact - Makes the popular vote count in Presidential elections instead of the Electoral College (but without amending the Constitution).

3. Clean Elections - Government-funded campaigns for candidates who say no to private donations.

There are pros and cons for each of these, but I think they would all be improvements over what we have now.

Talent for Deception

Nonpartisan political watchdog site, FactCheck.org has released a report saying that several of Jim Talent's ads are "misleading" and "deceive voters."

In four separate TV spots Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri falsely attributes several unflattering quotes about his opponent to the Kansas City Star. Our examination reveals that the quotes actually come from rival Claire McCaskill's political opponents and critics, not from the Star's reporters or editors.

The Star has demanded that Talent correct or withdraw the ads.

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