The Prez and Me

Posted on March 10th, 2009 in Politics | No Comments »

Last year in some of my more political posts, I was certain that by this time, we would be living in a world where the United States was governed by a woman. How wrong I was. I also compared Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter. The jury is still out on that one.

My misgivings towards Obama were based on the impression he left me with that he believes his own press releases. I really feel he thinks he’s the chosen one, who will lead the world out of darkness and ignorance, and into a new age. Would that it were so. I freely admit that I would love to be proven wrong about the man; that in four or eight years, I write about how good he has been to the nation, and how much better off we are.

Sigh. There are already signs of a backlash in Congress, where Obama tried to reform the earmark system, and nearly had his economic rescue plan handed back to him on a silver platter (in place of his head). The American people seem prepared to give him unusually wide latitude, no doubt because they know the mess we’re in now is not really his fault. We can blame Bush and Cheney (the ‘one-man axis of evil’) for that. But at some point the tide may turn, then all his oratorial skills may do him little good.

I do agree with a lot of what he’s done – reversing Bush policy on things like stem cell research, refusing to turn a blind eye to torture, releasing previous administration reports that suggest suspending the Constitution in all but name is a good idea, etc. The allies of the US need to know they’re still backing the good guys. Putin and Pyongyang are talking tough, but how far will they go, really? Many feel they’re testing the new government, like Krushchev tested Kennedy.

But on the other hand, why is the Obama administration not interested in pursuing the legality of the warantless wire-tapping scandal? Why have three nominees had to withdraw from various appointments because of non-payment of tax? Doesn’t anybody learn? Doesn’t anybody vet these things? Obama seemed to suggest that it’s okay the head of the treasury can’t pay his taxes without media scrutiny. Would he have given McCain’s nominee the same free pass?

And before you ask, I don’t care what color the president is. He’s half-white as far as I’m concerned. Why doesn’t anybody talk about that?

But, I’m rooting for him. Not so much for Carter… er, Obama the man, but for the President of the United States. I hope he can put us (and the world) on the right path. I’m pessimistic, but they say a pessimist is just an optimist who’s had his heart broken too many times.

Blueprint for Disaster?

Posted on November 8th, 2007 in Politics | No Comments »

The crumbling house of cards that’s currently Pakistan may be providing important lessons for the United States government. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong kind of lesson. While President Bush may be calling Musharraf and urging him to unsuspend Pakistan’s constitution and free the imprisoned Supreme Court justices, privately he or Vice-President Cheney may be taking notes on how to proceed in a similar fashion in America.

It’s no surprise to anyone that the current administration, led by Cheney, has gone far in the past seven years in eroding the United States consitution, and American prestige around the world. Consider the following:

  • We have been led under false pretenses (searching for WMD) into a war in Iraq that has escalated into civil war between two religious groups. Last time I checked, only Congress has the power to declare war. When did they do so? Was there really evidence of hidden weapons, or did Bush plan all along to invade Iraq, even before he assumed the presidency? Did 9/11 just give him a pretext to do so?
  • When the president signs a bill into law, he has the option of including an executive order that gives some guidelines as to how the law is to be put into effect. Bush has exploited that like no other president before him, using these guidelines as an extension of his authority that has no check or balance. While possibly not illegal, it’s certainly an abuse of the intent of this function.
  • Vice-president Cheney was previously a senior executive of Halliburton, which supplies equipment to the armed forces (think $300 for a toilet seat or hammer). Cheney has had meetings at his office in the Vice-presidential residence, but repeated requests for access to the visitor logs has been denied. Bush has declared ‘executive privilege’, even tho the logs are supposedly available to the public or media.
  • The fiasco of Alberto Gonzales at the Justice department has been a whole can of worms on its own. Not only does it appear that Gonzales hired and fired according to political slant (obviously acting on orders from above, which is in conflict with the job description of the Attorney General), but several top-level aides quit in disgust, and several lower-level aides were forced by the White House to disobey a direct subpoena from Congress, demanding they testify regarding the whole affair. Gonzales ‘doesn’t remember’ being at key meetings where it was revealed later he attended, and Bush once again clamped ‘executive privilege’ on the aides in barring their testimony.
  • The nominee to replace Gonzales at Justice said he cannot comment on an insidious practice known as ‘waterboarding’ as possibly being torture until he gets the job and can be briefed. What does that mean? Is being placed on the rack ‘torture’ or do you need to be briefed on it first? What about thumbscrews? flogging? Waterboarding has been recognized as torture by the US military, the EU and the UN. Why is a briefing required?
  • The United States has been spying on American citizens (wiretapping, reading emails, etc.) without obtaining approval from a judge since 9/11. Clearly illegal, the Bush administration claimed to be fighting ‘the war on terror’.
  • Guantanamo Bay – Hundreds of people detained without charge, trial or legal representation for years. Never mind trampling the Bill of Rights in the mud, what kind of case does the government have on these foreign citizens? If guilty, charge them; if not, release them. The few that have been released, such as a handful of British citizens (after much arm-twisting from the UK), have all been sent back and released without charge. What does this say to the rest of the world about the ‘land of the free’?

And of course, this is just the obvious things. Anybody wonder how the exit polls from Ohio in the last presidential race (the key state, much as Florida the election before) seemed so wrong compared to the results? And Bush carried Ohio by a whisker. Makes you wonder how much different would the world be if the ‘hanging chad’ from Florida had gone Gore’s way back in 2000.

Anyway, when President Hilary gives her Inaugural Address in January of 2009, and she says that she will begin pulling troops out of Iraq as soon as possible, will anyone be surprised if Cheney jumps up and takes the microphone, declaring a coup? I think it’s a possibility that should be considered. I’m sure he is. There’s little doubt that the Democrats will take the next election, and Clinton will be the candidate. Can Bush and Cheney just sit in front of the rotunda in the cold and listen as she begins to dismantle all they’ve done? I think Pakistan will be very much in the mind of the Vice-president (the real power behind the throne) over the next few weeks and months leading to the election. Remember you heard it here first.