Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hypocritical Obstructionism Is Alive And Well

The hypocrisy of the losers, in this case the GOPhers, continues to be stunning. Here's a link to an article about the GOP losing patience with Obama. Hello?

These people have learned that the tactic of the Bush years can work; simply accuse the opposition of that of which you yourselves are guilty. It's kind of a paintbrush ventriloquism.

Throw your toxic lead paint at your opposition. This is what politicians do when believing that the ultra and extreme voices on their side of political ideology is advantageous to adopt in the interest of either winning or retaining that plum job in Washington. To call it cynical is to be kind.

If anyone should be losing patience it's Obama. The Bush people used to say that elections have consequences, and they imposed their will on Congress, first when they had the majority position, and then using the powerful minority weapon, the filibuster

Now it's their ox that's gored and they are suddenly taking umbrage with Democrats. Democrats hope for the nirvana of having both a large majority in the House and a veto proof, sixty votes, in the Senate.

I've written that the GOPhers want to put Obama in short pants, thinking he's too uppity. Obama didn't help himself when he told them, "I won". Though that is a fact, it isn't helpful to throw it in the face of those you beat. That's true now and it was true when Bush II said he won and would use his political capital to get his way. As I've said many times, Republicans fall in line, and Democrats fall in love(with an idea and a personality). Dennis Hastert wouldn't bring any legislation to the floor of the House unless he knew it would be decided in favor of the GOPhers. So now we have GOPhers complaining that Pelosi won't allow opposition opportunity to offer their bills and amendments.

I know, I know, the system was set up to almost assure gridlock, because the founders were loath to make it possible for anyone to be able to act like a king, but when the right wingnuts like Limbaugh actually say they want Obama to fail, and the GOPhers are acting out that sick thought, surely that's not what the 18th Century guys had in mind. Trouble is the party in power, truth be told, would like this to be a kingdom, or at least they act like it.

Obama's dilemma is that he needs to back up his inclusiveness rhetoric with inclusiveness action.

But then again, he needs to lead us out of this hole, which the GOPhers talk like and act like they'd like us to stay in so that they could claim that he failed. It's still more about campaigning successfully for the next election than about governing successfully.

As a pragmatist in my work/life years, as I think Obama is in his,
I was energized by not only having a positive vision but the psychological energy to follow through and get it implemented. I believe Obama will get 'er done.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Testing Obama

Joe Biden warned that there will be those who will test Obama within the first six months in office.

Most folks thought he was referring to foreign countries, or some terrorist group.

But it's now clear that the threat is not foreign but domestic. The GOPhers are doing their thing, like good little Republicans they are falling line like a kindergarten class going out for recess.

Kevin Drum goes so far as to call it lockstep and then refer to people like Limbaugh as SS Talk Radio.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bi-Partisan Time? Fagetaboutit!

I've heard it said that Democrats fall in love, and Republicans fall in line.

Clearly that's happening again. Not one single Republican in the House voted for Obama's stimulus plan.

I write this post, not as a defense of Obama's plan, since after all, several Democrats voted against it also. So there must be legitimate and justifiable room for objections and thoughtful and considered differences of opinion.

What seems apparent to me is that the GOPher leaders in both houses have successfully convinced all of their members that there is a crucial need to put Obama in short pants.

If they can beat him right off the bat at his first major attempt to get his legislation passed in Congress they will have humbled him, which apparently is what they feel they need to do.

Two things stood out for me last week. One was that the GOPhers with whom Obama met in hopes of teaming up with them said that though they disagreed with him, they found him to be a really nice guy. As it's said in their win/lose world, nice guys finish last. They don't appear to care that the real losers are those really hurting financially, the American people virtually across the board, with the notable exception of those who are so wealthy that they can lose billions and still be financially independent of any and all discomfort, let alone hardship.

Another was the quote attributed to Obama in the media, apparently directed at his GOPher antagonists, "I won". That was a stark departure from his campaign and inaugural rhetoric which had emphasized "you", not "I". Maybe he thought they needed a dose of their own medicine, but I suspect it didn't sit well with them.

It also bothered me in that it seemed to indicate that he had been sucked into playing their win/lose game. Obama has shown a remarkable strength to turn problems into opportunity. I look forward to what he will do with this one.

Then again, it just might be that he will have to rely on Reid and Pelosi to deliver the goods, push his stuff through Congress by main strength and swallow the awkwardness.

Of such is the stuff of politics, it seems; people disagreeing while being disagreeable. Perhaps that's as good as it gets. Now and then human beings manage to disagree without being disagreeable. Based on my experience of life on this planet that rarely happens above the level of deciding where we should go for lunch.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama's Vietnam?

I continue to be impressed with the quality of thinking I find in the posts of Patrick Lang and his crew at the blog Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Here's a link Pat has offered to an article an essay about Afghanistan. Makes sense to me.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Israel's Brutality

Here's a link to an article found in Pat Lang's blog Sic Semper Tyrannis.

It's about reports of Israeli Army brutality in Gaza.

How long will America
continue to act as if Israel can do no wrong?

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unending Campaigning/ Sacrificing Governing.

It's most discouraging to witness the GOPher's obstructionist tactics and propaganda right from the git go.

It hard not to believe that they are acting the way Limbaugh is talking, that they want Obama to fail. In other words they are willing to bring harm to the country so they can later blame Obama for that harm.

This seems to be just more political campaigning, already want to set the stage for the 2010 mid term elections, if not the 2012 national election.

We can't ever seem to get to actual governing and running the country. It's all about making the other guys look bad to be able to place blame which can be used in the campaigns for the next election.

There are few statesmen these days, only partisan politicians, but I repeat myself.

And Mr. Holder, the nominee for AG, knuckled under to the die hard Bush backers, by saying he won't pursue prosecuting those who tortured. That might be OK, if those at the top who gave the orders to torture are subjected to justice.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, January 26, 2009

How Then Shall We Live?

James Carroll has stopped his column for a book writing several months, and William Kristol apparently has had his quill taken away by the New York Times.

Mondays will go back to being the downers they used to be.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dear Mr. President

You say you want ideas. Well here's an idea from a rather unexpected source.

It is well thought out, backed up with facts, clearly articulated, and is a departure from all the other ideas that haven't worked. And it's from the head man of a Middle Eastern Arab country!

Reaching out in dialog with this man could be just the breakthrough needed to get something good going in that part of the world. How about sending George Mitchell to Libya soon?


Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, January 23, 2009

"I Won"

Here's a piece which includes language attributed to Obama which is not typical of his message of inclusion.

Perhaps it doesn't sound as in your face when heard in context.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New York Times Writer, An Apologist For Bush

Here's a piece by columnist Peter Baker of the New York Times, not just reporting, but commenting on his observations of those aboard the plane that returned George W. Bush to Texas.

I'm not familiar with Peter Baker as a columnist the the Times. He seems to be siding with those loyal to Bush who thought Obama was taking cheap shots at Bush in his inauguration speech.

Baker would do well to remind himself that the American people, including Obama, but certainly not limited to Obama, have repudiated Bush's actions when asked by giving him a positive opinion rating in the 20's and 30's for several years now.

It's characteristic of those on the receiving end of low opinion to discredit polls which reveal such data. That's human nature. Hearing opprobrium is painful, accepting it can be excruciating. Being relieved of it can be freeing.

Some say Bush will make bundles on the talk circuit. That's the first amendment at work, a part of the Constitution Cheney manipulated him to trash.

Crawford, Texas has its silver spoon fed, Barbara Bush coddled, Yale, Harvard exposed, bailed out of failure but still village idiot back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Being Catty

We have two new kittens at our house. This New Yorker cartoon link shows how they spend half the day. The other half, look out.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Strong Case For War Crimes Prosecutions

Here's a New York Times editorial about the need not only to close Guantanamo, but to bring to justice those who tortured prisoners, and those who told them to.

Since Judge Susan Crawford proclaimed in an interview with the Washington Post that Mohammed al- Qahtani, the Saudi national accused of planning to take part in 9/11, was tortured, there is a stronger and more specific reason not to just move on as Barack Obama has said he prefers to do.

I understand that it likely would be called a witch hunt by Bush/Cheney supporters, but that's only politics. Justice needs to be sought, not to protect the tortured person. It's too late for that, and he's clearly a bad guy. The need is to prosecute war crimes; so that future people in powerful places will think twice before doing what Bush/Cheney, the elected mafia dons, have done for years.

It's good to see this point being made by editors of a publication of the New York Times' stature.

There's so much meat in this editorial that it deserves to be read in its entirety. I commend it to you.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Mainiac's Summation of GWB

Here's a friend's summary of GWB. I haven't asked permission to use his real name, but in the interest of attribution I will call him "Lord Jeff '39".

"If I were a blogger, this would be my blog for the day:
Last evening George W. Bush gave his Farewell Address to a select group of friends and others in the White House. To make it a really intimate affair it was broadcast by all the major networks.

I have never been comfortable watching either GWB or his father. Both seem to me to be superficial, unimaginative and blighted men who find their confidence in their inherited position in life and who are bent on maintaining it. My reactions of course are chiefly influenced by this bias.

From the reports of good observers GWB is a charming, warm and gracious man in his personal relationships. There are many stories of generosity and thoughtfulness in his treatment of people whose case or plight has come to his attention. Unfortunately, little of that attractiveness comes through in his public appearances. Last evening his face wore a fixed Cheshire cat grin - a shit-eating grin in the vernacular - during most of his talk. It took away from the solemnity a more sober expression might have allowed.

Bush says he has acted throughout his regime only with the best interest of the American people in mind. He asserts a firm belief in the necessity of all the moves he made to safeguard the country after 9/11 and cites the absence of other terrorist attacks as proof of the success of his administration.

That of course can not be denied, but graver questions are left untouched and that is an example of the superficiality of the man. There is no conceding that some of the basic principles of the Constitution he was sworn to defend have been sacrificed, no retreat from a hard-headed notion that only results count, not ways and means. Deep principles have been violated and he admits no doubts of his actions. A bigger man would show less certainty.

The fact is GWB has learned nothing in eight years as the most powerful man in the world. He went into office with a set of convictions and nothing has happened to cause him to question those convictions. This isn't surmise; it is his own testimony. It is a terrible indictment of an eight year period in a human life. It is also disturbing because it reflects a strong view in the country - that one forms one's convictions early and the hero is the one who fights for them all his life.

I don't find that's the way I have lived my life. I'm a lot older than GWB and I still find my convictions changing. Right there is the reason I can't possible make a fair judgment of George W. Bush.

Now Obama comes in. I hope he'll learn something as president. I bet Lincoln did."

Great minds do think alike.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper, aka Lord Jeff '59

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Killing off the Children in Israel/Palestine

Here's a contribution from the author of the blog, The Old New Englander, a blog I follow closely.

Disclosure: He and I often discuss stuff, via email and comments to our respective blogs, sometimes in disagreement, but always in the interest of sharing views.

This particular post which is credited to a friend of the blogger, emphasizes some of Golda Miers's specific words about the conflict in her time, and as Israel's Prime Minister.

It is certainly a sardonic observation, and an indication of how tragic have been all the years for both Israelis and Palestinians since the creation of the state of Israel.

I'm inclined to believe that tribal conflict in this region for some four thousand years is almost impossible to interrupt. Karen Armstrong wrote an excellent account of the warring nature of the three monotheistic religions in her book, The Battle For God. Certainly Jews and Muslims have provided examples, but so have the Christians.

One ray of hope is the apparent successful stopping of violence between Christian sects in Northern Ireland.

It was reported in the Bible that King Herod tried killing off all the children when he heard of the birth of Jesus, whom he heard was born King of the Jews, and whom he deemed to be a threat to his power. How did that work out for him?

Tom Friedman wrote a column recently in which he pretty much said that Israel has to frighten the Palestinians into rejecting Hamas, like he claims they succeeded in doing in Lebanon in 2006, frightening the Lebanese into rejecting Hezbollah.

Friedman euphemistically refers to this action as educating the Palestinians.

I hold the view that the lessons learned actually result in even more militants and suicide bombers on both sides, confirming the adage, the sins of the fathers are passed on to succeeding generations.

Karen Armstrong's book, A History of God, provides examples of how this has played out, as far back as four thousand years.

At the funeral for one of Hamas' most senior officials, which turned into a mass rally, children standing on roofs were heard exclaiming, "This is in the name of God".

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

To Swear Or Not To Swear; And To What?

Here's an essay on the invoking of God at the inaugural, by Sally Quinn of the Washington Post.
It's followed by comments, one from me.

Here's Jon Meacham's contribution, taking the other side.

My oar in the water is about holding two ceremonies, one in a place of worship and one on the Capitol Steps, one with religious stuff, one without. Seems to me this approach takes into account Meacham's argument that religion and politics are both about people, and Quinn's point that church and state need to be separate.

How about separate but equal? It didn't solve racial trouble, but it might just work in this context. After all, we worship in church, and vote in government buildings. It's true that some clergy sound like politicians in the pulpit and some politicians sound like clergy in the courthouse. Both are subject to sanctions and dismissal by their constituents, people, worshippers and voters, not by a God or gods.

I don't agree with Quinn's assessment that invoking God is an affront to all non-believers. As I mentioned in the comment, agnostics can simply be amused. Then again, atheists like Dawkins, Harris and Co. get pretty exercised. Perhaps that's because, to me, atheists are practicing their own brand of faith, faith in the belief that there is no God. Agnostics just don't know, as Merriam Webster tells us.

Some of my best friends say that life without mystery would be empty and boring. I agree. It's all a mystery to me and I enjoy it just for the fun of it.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

The Gift of Roger Cohen

We, humanity, are fortunate to have the likes of Roger Cohen writing for us now. And we are fortunate that his paper, the New York Times, is read around the globe.

He mentions the new buzz phrase, Smart Power, employed by HRC in her confirmation hearing, in a way that while giving it some due, also said we can do better. That's how I responded to it as well when I first heard it.

It's a slogan, not a philosophy. Slogans are easy to remember, so as to be regurgitated on cue, like "tastes great, less filling". Philosophies are internalized, and felt, and only a few, like Roger Cohen, are capable of articulating them. As an English professor once observed to me, having read my small collection of poems, "The Robert Frosts of this world come along only now and then", and, "Don't quit your day job."

Roger Cohen shouldn't quit his day job either.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israel and War

This is what makes me cringe.

And it's what Tom Friedman is applauding.

And Dick Cheney said, "I think so.", when Jim Lehrer asked him if he thought the loss of lives of 4500 soldiers and at least 100,000 Iraqis was worth it.

Where has all the decency gone? This is what came of Compassionate Conservatism.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Glenn Greenwald on Tom Friedman's Column

This article is important. Greenwald takes Friedman to task for his cheerleading of Israel's attack on Gaza. Greenwald is a very smart guy, as evidenced by his rebuttals to negative comments.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Naomi Klein's Ideas On Ending Israel's Occupation of Palestinian Land

Here's an article, written, apparently by a Jew (though that's an assumption) which calls for isolating Israel to end the occupation, as South Africa was isolated, for the purpose of ending apartheid.

It's economic isolation, boycotting tactics, that she supports.

Refreshing reading, to say the least. I'd like to learn of others like her.

She's a stark contrast to Senator Shumer who participated in a festive type demonstration at the Israeli Embassy in support of Israel's brutal treatment of the Gazan people.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Portnoy's Complaint, Not

Seems Portnoy can't complain.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

When Israel Speaks

Updates Below.

If this is true it's inexcusable, atrocious and sick.

It's often claimed that since Israel is a democracy she is therefore, by definition, our friend in the Middle East. Recently the far right in Israel has banned Arab parties from the upcoming elections, thereby denying Arab/Israeli citizens the vote. Democracy? I don't think so. Hamas was elected in Gaza too, as was Maliki in Iraq. Tyrants are routinely "elected" in rigged voting.

True democracy requires more than elections.

Update-1: The report is called "inaccurate", but not false. The rest of this piece cites a direct quote from Olmert and observations from inside the UN that Arab leaders were clearly upset by what Rice told them, after talking to Bush, and that Rice boogied out, fled the scene, without comment.

When a disgraced Israeli leader outs his disgraced benefactor, the US president, it has to be a new low in international relations for the US.

It's sick.

Update-2: Talk about sick. Shumer makes me sick. He's the same guy who stifled the attempt to impose ordinary income tax on profits made by hedge fund managers, his cronies and contributors in New York. He's done good things for Dem candidates so I can live with this particular mutual back scratching. He's certainly not in a class by himself on that one. But this piece about shouting up a party in support of Israel's treatment of Gazans is pure tribalism, characteristic of the Middle East for at least four thousand years.

Update-3: This update is a link to Patrick Lang's contribution, found on his blog Sic Semper Tyrannis. For me this confirms that the conversation existed between Olmert and Bush. Pat Lang includes his opinion about what could be called Israel's arrogance. What must be going through Condi Rice's mind? Here guy, W, whom she supported under great duress for years, pulled the rug out from under her with no warning. Pat Lang's use of the term, the tail wagging the dog, is certainly appropriate. In effect Olmert, not Bush, instructed her to abstain from voting on a resolution she authored and sponsored. Seems Olmert knew what was in the language and Bush admitted he did not.

It's difficult not to conclude that Bush resigned some months ago without telling anyone.

Thank heaven we're only a week away from kicking Bush all the way back to Texas. Obama comes into his presidency with the country in such a deep hole in so many ways that he only needs to be decent, confident but not arrogant, law abiding and willing to use his strong intellect to succeed, if the measure of success is as compared to Bush. Personally, I believe he will far exceed that most modest of measures. Bush has set the bar so low that almost anyone of decency could exceed it.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I read Patrick Lang

Here's a great piece on Bush and cluelessness. It's from Pat Lang's blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis.

I commend it to you.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Despondent Correspondent

Here is a link to Roger Cohen's sad but true commentary on Gaza.

I continue to admire him for his stance against Israeli warring.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, January 4, 2009

This Is Not A Good Place

Here's a link to an article about the US sand bagging a UN resolution calling for a Cease Fire in the latest Israeli/Gaza violence.

Who's telling our UN ambassidor what to do? Officially it must still be Bush. Then come the inevitable questions: what did Obama know and when did he know it? Legally, constitutionally, the answers might be interesting, if we ever know them, but they really don't matter. Until Jan 20, 2009 Bush is the president and Obama is accurate in saying, "We only have one president at a time".

While this statement might be legally and Constitutionally sound it has problems of a ramifications to it.

Essentially we, the citizens of the US, having elected a new president and implicitedy rejected his opponent, believed to be one who would continue the policies of his party predissisor, are finding ourselves in a kind of place often described as no mans land, or a vacuum. Neither is a good place to be. Both are places in which we find ourselves.

As of this writing there are sixteen days before the end of the Bush presidency and the beginning of the Obama presidency. Israel took only six days to bomb Gaza, followed by todays

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another Israeli's View of the Siege

Here's a negative view by an Israeli commentator on the siege of Gaza.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper