Archive for the ‘george bush’ tag
We’ll still call this year’s friendly reading competition an “office” read-off, even though Blake and I are unfortunately not in the same office anymore since I changed jobs in February and moved to another state. In any case, I’m way behind so far this year after getting a little bogged down in “Madison and Jefferson,” the review of which you can read here.
I’m at 3,265 pages so far this year, which I think is a little behind this point last year. He’s way above that, so yeah, the situation on my end is a bit grim at this point. I’m trusting that he might get bogged down later this year, but if things progress as they are right now, I will get smoked.
Here are the books I’ve finished thus far in 2012:
- “Grant” by Jean Edward Smith, 628 pages, finished late January (minus 200 pages read in 2011)
- “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara, 374 pages, finished Feb. 12
- “General Lee’s Army: From Victory To Collapse” by Joseph Glatthaar, 475 pages
- “This Mighty Scourge” by James McPherson, 272 pages
- “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward, 491 pages, finished April 2
- “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Richard Dawkins, 437 pages, started late March, finished May 13
- “Madison and Jefferson” by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, 644 pages, started May 16, finished July 21
- “From the Temple to the Castle” by Lee Morrissey, 144 pages, started May 13, finished July 22
Total: 3,265 pages as of July 23.
I’m a little behind on the page count from last year at this time, but I’m pretty confident that I can have a strong rest of the year. “Madison and Jefferson,” which was very good, but to me, it was a bit longer than it needed to be and kind of dragged me down. I’m excited about the books that I have in the works.
I took a long drive today — specifically eight hours round trip from Tennessee to South Carolina and back — and had some time to think about exactly why I can’t, under any circumstances, morally or intellectually, understand or support the conservative program of the last, well, 32 years since I’ve been old enough to be cognizant of it.
I concluded that it is this: while progressives, Green Party members, some Democrats and others, have been champions of people — you know, human beings with pulses and feelings and a pitiable capacity for suffering under immense physical, emotional or financial stress — Republicans more or less have mostly been concerned with A) protecting the rights of inanimate religion in all its forms, squashing gay rights, squashing all abortion, sometimes even in cases of rape or incest, and protecting the right of prayer in the public square, and B) protecting the rights of inanimate state governments and inanimate corporations.
Maybe you are noticing a trend. Yes, the GOP have made some obligatory inroads in helping starving people in Africa and elsewhere in the world, but here in America since 1981, we have languished through eight years under Reagan, four under George Herbert Walker Bush and eight years under George W. Bush. What advancements have they brought to bear in health care in these 20 years in power? The answer? Not one thing. Medicare, you say? Instituted in 1965 under Lyndon Johnson, a liberal if ever there was one. Medicaid? Same year. Same president.
In fact, members of the GOP have done everything in their power to keep health care reform from happening in this nation, and that became evidently clear when not one single Congress man or woman had the balls to vote in favor with the other side of the aisle. Chief Justice John Roberts, in his recent ruling to uphold the health care bill, actually seems to be the only conservative with any semblance of a backbone in this political landscape. Conservatives, at the same time, talk about cutting spending, cutting taxing, reining in the budget, slashing regulations on corporations and kowtowing to the insurance industry, all the while wrapping themselves in the cloak of religion and claiming they care about people. Care about people? I have yet to find a “soul” whatsoever in rhetoric coming from the American right.
Honestly, I don’t know how some of them live with themselves. Sure, Medicaid and Medicare protect the health of the disabled and old people (both passed under LBJ, as I mentioned), but what about other needy people who aren’t
fortunate enough to be disabled or old? We have no problem funding public education for every single person in this country. We have no problem publicly funding police departments. Why is health care different? Shouldn’t the public funding of health care be even more important than education, since without the ability to get or pay for basic care when you get sick, a person’s education or career means nothing. Can you imagine the outcry if police departments only protected people who were disabled or more than 65 years old? What if a pregnant mother of three was abducted in a mall bathroom, and the police turned the other way because taxes aren’t set aside to protect otherwise “healthy” people. There is a clear disconnect.
So, in looking at conservatism in the last 30 years, I’ve heard a lot of rhetoric about protecting the interests of inanimate institutions that, by definition, only suffer financially and not physically, and a lot of talk about being fiscally responsible with money. It’s always money, money, money. But really, isn’t it the health of our citizens that we should be protecting above everything else?
No one, I dare say, will argue that cutting taxes and cutting government spending isn’t an admirable course of action if possible and if the body politic is already well educated, healthy and financially stable. But when either of these conditions is not met (and at least two are not met), the government, with its high call, via the Constitution, “to promote the general welfare” of the populace, should do what is necessary to meet them. I hear nothing but fiscal talk from the conservative side. Nothing about the importance of health care or ethics. Nothing about actually improving the lives of the citizenry in concrete ways. Nothing about protecting individual interests against the interests of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Indeed and stunningly, given all the religious talk that trots right alongside the rhetoric, it is the opposite. And until that changes in drastic ways, progressivism, with its focus on the well being of conscious creatures, is the only tenable path forward.
Here is one of the more cogent commentaries about GOP primary presidential candidate Rick Perry’s recent “Oops” moment from the debate this week. If you haven’t seen it, here is the video of the awkward 53-seconds:
In the column, I think Matt Bai gets at the heart of Perry’s mishap:
The problem isn’t just that Mr. Perry was groping around on stage like a prairie dog in a hailstorm. …
The problem is that he didn’t seem to know the basic details of his own proposal. Here he was calling for what would be a truly radical restructuring of the federal government — involving many thousands of jobs and many billions of dollars in federal expenditures — and he didn’t have a grasp on which sprawling departments he would shutter. It seemed the idea was not his own, but rather something he had tried and failed to memorize.
I’ve heard the TV talking heads and people with whom I have spoken say things similar to, “Well, anyone can have a brain freeze or suffer from a mental lapse.” True, but as Bai again points out, cutting back the three government agencies — commerce, education, energy — is almost exclusively what has set Perry apart from the other GOP candidates. As Bai says,
… Mr. Perry violated one of the core tenets of modern politics, which is that you have to at least sustain the artifice of ownership. We know, of course, that presidential candidates don’t actually write their own speeches or stay up late at night tinkering with their own proposals to overhaul Medicare. We get all that.
But we do expect them to really believe in the things they propose — to have the requisite conviction to know and recite with passion the basic policies that someone on their team stayed up nights to craft. Say what you want about Mr. Bush, but no one ever doubted his deep well of resolve on tax cuts or education reform. He had command of his own plan, if not all the underlying data.
There’s nothing more central to Mr. Perry’s campaign than the idea of scaling back the government in Washington — that’s pretty much the whole tamale right there — and what he proved last night, in 60 or so agonizing seconds, is that he hasn’t thought deeply enough about it to even master the basics of his own agenda.
How is it possible that one could forget the central tenant of one’s plan to cut spending? I mean, that’s been his task-at-hand for months now. How is it possible that a presidential candidate, no less, could whiff on such a key component to his entire campaign. It’s as if Joseph Ratzinger, the pope, had just given a speech at the Vatican and in his preachments, failed to give nod to one member of the Holy Trinity. Perry isn’t trying to win a city, county or state seat. He is running for the highest office in the free world.
This latest episode (And this certainly has not been the only questionable moment in Perry’s run) shows: first, how the far right wing of American politics borders on the ridiculous; second, how the general political discourse has devolved (by 18th century standards) by many degrees downward into an intellectual morass; and third, how we as an electorate expect much too little from the people who claim they want to lead us. I mean, George W. Bush was a buffoon who thought he had God on his side and allowed his subordinates to dictate his courses of action in almost every case, but at least he knew his stance on the issues, articulated them (although in questionable grammar) and rarely — if ever and to a fault — did he falter in his convictions. This current bunch continues the buffoonery, while lacking the charm and consistency, and are, clambering for election, apparently, just for the sake of being elected without a clear or coherent vision. It’s a waste and a disgrace to the legacy of the nation.
H.L. Mencken said it best, which was apparently misquoted as “People deserve the government that they get …”
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
Or, the succinct, harsher version from this blogger:
Idiots elected by idiots.
In short, until the electorate smartens up, don’t expect much from the elected. Hopefully at some point, the tide of the conversation will turn and the discourse will improve. But we are almost as far removed from that day as we are from 18th century politics, which makes 21st century politics look, at once, dumb, childish and astonishingly enough, brazen by comparison.
Even if it’s pure fiction, at least it’s interesting.
Playboy today has released a fascinating first-person, albeit, anonymous, account of the real nuts and bolts behind the Tea Party movement. And this isn’t your grandmother’s Tea Party. I would suspect that it’s of the same cast as that of folks over at reteaparty.com, with whom I’ve debated in the past. Although, the website doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, here is the Twitter page.
When I say it’s not your grandmother’s Tea Party, I mean to say that party advocates are young, intelligent, plugged in and not terribly moving along the straight and narrow. They use slang and vulgarities and carouse in seedy dives. At least that’s the picture delivered from the above referenced Tea Party consultant, who on page 2 of this treatise said:
I get out of Washington whenever possible, especially during tourist season. In late spring I visited a Tea Party rally in suburban St. Louis. It was what you would imagine: angst-ridden Caucasians sitting in lawn chairs with signs such as My daughter is nine and already $41,000 in debt. It was not an angry crowd, and in all candor I never heard a racist word uttered.
The speeches went on for hours. The sun was shining. It was the kind of day when you could take a nap under a tree. The organizer had personally delivered about a thousand activists. It was her big day. Two hours into the speeches she sat down on the warm grass next to me at the back of the rally and said, “This is the perfect day. Now all I need is a joint.” That tells you everything you need to know about my friends.
We are tremendously plugged in to BigGovernment.com and its stable of writers. Our news cycle is measured in minutes, not days. Combine the DNA of a flash mob, a news addict and a con servative (sic?) who feels betrayed by the spending excesses of George W. Bush, sprinkle in some anxiety and you’ve got my people.
To read that second paragraph sounds like something straight out of the sun-soaked, extraordinary and existential, “The Stranger,” which I recently finished reading … again.
To read the third paragraph is to crash into a non sequitur. The author is “tremendously plugged in to BigGovernment.com yet is “betrayed” by Bush’s excesses, the president who spiraled us into gigantic debt with his war against Saddam? Which, if it does nothing else, smacks of big government.
The speaker continues near the end of his short memoir:
The inner core of Tea Party consultants I work with don’t like to see their names in the news, but we do enjoy a good dark bar. Nearly all are based far from the Beltway. Imagine the rooftop deck of a D.C. steakhouse with about 40 Tea Party celebrities. It’s not the stuffy crowd that usually congregates at Morton’s. Picture Breitbart holding court with donors in one corner and fake ACORN hooker Hannah Giles in another (too young to drink legally at the time), talking with the even younger doe-eyed, homeschooled daughter of a prominent activist. Though it had been a month since Washington’s last snowfall, the rooftop deck still had piles of snow, allowing Maura Flynn to start the first-ever snowball fight inside Morton’s bar. Welcome to my Tea Party party.
We make a sport out of confusing the press. I had fake business cards printed to give to reporters. I watched a reporter walk out of a Conservative Political Action Conference reception in mid-February with a fistful of my faux business cards. Feeling a little guilty I told him not to file a story immediately because it would be guaranteed to be dead wrong. He finally published it a month later, after one of our friends charitably spent three hours with him.
Causing mayhem is not limited to dealing with the press. We’ve quietly acquired Service Employees International Union shirts to wear at Tea Party rallies. For big labor, that’s like handing out TSA uniforms in Kabul. And at a rally in St. Louis this March, fake SEIU protesters joined the Tea Party protest.
Various Republican congressional leaders met for hours with our leadership and our finance team in the Richard Nixon suite at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. Never in my career had I had a congressman look me in the eyes behind closed doors and say with such sincerity, “Give me a list of what you need me to do.” The second meeting drew 10 congressmen. There we sat, inside the Capitol Hill Club (which shares the building that houses the Republican National Committee), sharing ideas on how we can work together. The third meeting drew 17 congressmen. We’ll see help with fundraising and research from friendly members of Congress. It’s what you won’t see that’s more important. Our role is to quietly help a dozen grassroots conservative candidates win in the fall, using traditional and nontraditional means. If you don’t hear from us directly, we will have done our job.
Of course, I must mention that if any of this is written by an actual Tea Party “insider,” whatever that means, I will be very surprised. I do imagine that there might be some sort of underground Tea Party proletariate lurking somewhere behind the hysterical public message of Sarah Palin and others, but the “anonymity” of this particular speaker is troubling. Folks can say anything, after all, behind the vale of anonymity. That’s why we newspaper types and reputable information outlets require that letters to the editor and other reader-created works are accompanied by a name and town, to hold folks accountable for what they say. For, to be sure, if a person isn’t willing to put their name behind their own thoughts, it first, drapes a curtain of doubt over the whole thing, and second, allows the speaker to hide behind it.
The best I can say, I suppose, is that the graphic accompanying the story (shown) is exquisite.
Following is a fascinating look at IQ and politics from the 2004 presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry.
Pardon the overlap of the “Nevada” row. That was a Macromedia faux pas on my part.
Here is a statement from the website in which I just sourced:
The purpose of this webpage is to provide better state IQ data than what had been available – not politics. These IQ’s follow elementary school test results. The most likely reason for the lower IQ’s in southern states is the high proportion of Blacks in those states. African-Americans consistently test at an average 85 IQ level. Since Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat, it is difficult to find an IQ-political spin in the chart above. Also on southern states a viewer has provided government data on mental retardation rates being higher there. See also government data on state minority percentages, in response to a professor’s reaction to this paragraph. Also see Gallup/ CNN data showing that Bush got the vote of a majority of college grads.
Another viewer has weighted the above results by population, producing a definite increased IQ/ Democrat correlation. A different viewer has analyzed the same results by looking at the actual percent Rep/Dem voting results in each state, and he concludes from his colorful charts that. “the IQ trendline is agnostic about the candidate.” Perhaps all this is evidence that statistics can be massaged to produce a variety of conclusions! The best voter IQ picture may be from an analysis including population and voting by ethnic groups.
We don’t have to study this chart long to realize the breakdown between IQ in Democrat-voting states versus red states. Indeed, unlearned types like Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and others currently choking talk radio fuel the frenzy of irrational, backward-thinking notions on a daily basis, and to put it mildly, the right does not have erudition on its side. Those who are among the right’s inteligencia are in the minority. They may actually have some salvageable ideas, but again, they are drowned out by the screaming masses, when, in the lack of anything intelligible to add to the public discourse, rant to a fevered pitch, which, is understandable, since, when reason and logic fail, it’s their one and only defense.
I recently finished reading “Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention in 1787” by Christopher and James Lincoln Collier, and for anyone who has not read it, I would highly suggest it as an introduction to what happened behind closed doors that summer, which eventually resulted in what we know as the document that binds us and guides us as a nation.
The book’s conclusion, which included a brief explanation or thesis about how the axioms presented in the U.S. Constitution fit into and implicate how we conduct business as a nation in modern times. It’s conclusion reminded me of a discussion I had with (seemingly) the entire bloc of Tea Party supporters, of which, that post can be found here.
My main premise in that post was to suggest that no one really knows what the Tea Party movement is about. Is it about a strict adherence to the Constitution? Is it anti-tax? Anti-big spending? Anti-Democrat? People showing up in 18th century garb at rallies across the country didn’t exactly clarify matters. Another point that I hope was clear in my post and in other posts on this blog, here and here, is that it’s awfully hard to know precisely on which side of current national issues the Founding Fathers would have come down on. We can probably get close, but they were people of their own times attempting to forge a document that would live beyond them. And they most certainly did, but to say that we can take modern questions like, should we bailout the automakers or should we offer universal health care, and place them onto the Founders, seems to me anachronistic and reading back onto them modern concerns. The truth is, as I see it, they would likely be extremely surprised to see how much liberty we have taken thus far with their — our — document. The authors of the aforementioned book acknowledged this problem.
Take the Colliers’ interpretation of how the Founders would have viewed the modern incarnation of the Supreme Court:
The power of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution is what has given the document the flexibility necessary to deal with changing conditions. Yet it is certain that the delegates would have been horrified to see how broadly the Court has used its interpreting power. They believed, at bottom, that if final power had to lie anywhere, it ought to be in the legislature, which they saw as the primary voice of the people. They certainly did not expect the judiciary to be dealing with day-to-day details of school ssytesm, prisons, and fire departments as they do today.
Also, after FDR, we see a string of presidents taking military action and intervening in affairs overseas with troops without first asking for Congress’ approval. George W. Bush would obviously be the worst agressor in recent years.
Here is what Encarta says, which notes that Congress in years past has simply “relinquished” powers to make war to the president:
U.S. presidents after World War II have assumed most of the authority to send U.S. troops into battle. The Korean War (1950-1953), for example, was regarded by the U.S. government as a police action rather than as a war, and President Harry S. Truman never sought a declaration of war from Congress. And in 1964 Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which effectively ceded to President Lyndon B. Johnson the ability to wage war against Vietnam. Congress passed a similar resolution on January 12, 1991, authorizing President George H. W. Bush to use force against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
And the Colliers’:
What, finally would the Founders have thought of the tendency of recent American presidents to commit troops to battle without formal permission from Congress? They would almost certainly have been astonished and outraged. They were determined not to give a potential tyrant an armed force to use as he wished. (Not to call him a tyrant; that would probably be inaccurate, but this is precisely what George W. Bush did). Had they seen a president sending troops out on his own in pursuit of his foreign policy objectives (Again: See Bush) they would have taken immediate action to stop him.
My larger point is this: If we want to take a literalist reading of the Constitution and say such things as, ‘It’s socialism that the president will now be the largest shareholder in GM or that it’s socialism to attempt to bailout the banks,’ we might as well begin taking the entire building down brick-by-brick. Or, even that such things as Medicaid and Social Security are unconstitutional (as some in my debates with the Tea Party supporters were claiming), we might as well start from ground zero and begin the country over again. We are one of the country’s the world looks to for leadership, and it’s much too late, centuries late, to begin debating, off the rantings of Glenn Beck and others, that the entire edifice is now faulty and unconstitutional.
The Framers, Madison, Washington, Gouvenor Morris, Hamilton, Gerry, Randolph, the Pinkneys (Charles and Charles Cotesworth) and many others were some of the greatest minds to ever land on this soil. Though they might have been astounded or enraged that we would now make some of the policies that we are making, they were forward thinking enough to realize that circumstances in the 18th century would not be the circumstances in the 21st century, including some of the very provisions they laid forth in the Constitution. That’s why they made it flexible enough to be amended and interpreted. They, I think, trusted that great minds would also follow their own, doing what was best for this country and, subsequently, for the international community.
Thomas Friedman’s Feb. 24 New York Times column from South Korea read thusly:
For all the talk in recent years about America’s inevitable decline, all eyes are not now on Tokyo, Beijing, Brussels or Moscow — nor on any other pretenders to the world heavyweight crown. All eyes are on Washington to pull the world out of its economic tailspin. At no time in the last 50 years have we ever felt weaker, and at no time in the last 50 years has the world ever seen us as more important.
It seems there comes a price with all those years spent touting America as the world leader in well … everything, from economics to military might to democratic freedoms. Many of our leaders (i.e. Carter, Reagan, Bush version 1 and 2, Clinton) have led the charge in spreading democracy abroad, regardless of whether the people of the receiving countries desired it or not. Since the years following the Great Depression, our country’s pendulum has swung upward economically and in world influence. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing (OK, taking over a country and by brute force leading that country toward democracy when no one asked for our help probably is a bad thing, but I digress …) as long as we are willing and able to meet the challenges that come with such responsibility.
Or as Friedman poignantly quoted in his column a “senior Korean official:”
“No other country can substitute for the U.S. The U.S. is still No. 1 in military, No. 1 in economy, No. 1 in promoting human rights and No. 1 in idealism. Only the U.S. can lead the world. No other country can. China can’t. The E.U. is too divided, and Europe is militarily far behind the U.S. So it is only the United States … We have never had a more unipolar world than we have today.”
Is this a scary thing or a positive? At face value, it’s a touch scary. We aren’t exactly the most progressive country (though we seem to be increasingly headed that way, paragraph 6) in the world if you think about some of our present or past ideals. Some among us, about 49 percent, according to a recent poll, favor a “comprehensive government health care system,” and 10 percent would like to see such a system with “limited” government. The Obama administration, perhaps and finally, may be able to get this done, but what of the last few decades?
Just yesterday, I spoke with a man whose wife was diagnosed about a year ago with ALS. He has liver cancer and chemo was ineffective (and actually made his condition worse). He is waiting on a transplant. He can’t work, can’t pay the bills and he’s taking care of his wife by himself, when someone should be taking care of him. He’s behind on his mortgage and is near foreclosure. Universal health care could help these folks at least be able to not worry about the medical stuff and focus on making the house payment, buying food and the like. Or, perhaps, Obama’s housing plan could provide similar relief. But our love affair with big business, pharmaceutical companies and their lobbying efforts have proven our idealisms are, or at least have been, ill-conceived.
We were one of the last to jump off the “slavery” ship (Most developed European nations abolished it before us, including Russia, France, Denmark, Sweden, the British Empire [except in some colonies], etc.) After that, the country limped through Reconstruction, the Black Codes, Jim Crow, lynchings and segregation before finally deciding that our black fellow-countrymen were actually, and not just in writing, our equals. Further, it’s well documented that we aren’t exactly trailblazers when it comes to education either.
So, I think there’s many areas in which, in fact, we aren’t leading and have lagged behind ideologically. Militarily, of course, we are leading, and maybe this is the area that matters most. Or, perhaps our one-month sojourn under a new administration has made folks forget about the last eight years of failed policies. Lest we forget, with the exception of George Bush and his administration, many of those folks who supported those ideologies (Sanford, Perdue, Palin, Jindal and the like) are still in Congress; they just don’t hold the majority.
Make no mistake, today, this is a great nation, regardless of our previous moral lapses. But if one measures greatness by the average life span of the populous or by quality of living or by educational achievement, etc., we simply have a long way to go. Because of our military might and our insistence on carrying the world banner, folks look to us. And that’s fine. Obama seems to be up to the task. I just think it’s peculiar that given our many shortfalls, the eyes are still all on us. And perhaps that speaks even more to our standing, and in turn, our immense responsibility.
“Simply put, as the clock runs out of on the administration’s term in office, would-be Cinderellas—including the president, cabinet officers, and agency heads—work assiduously to promulgate regulations before they turn back into ordinary citizens at the stroke of midnight.” — former Mercatus Center scholar Jay Cochran
As if the blunders of Katrina weren’t enough. If illegally invading a country without provocation wasn’t enough, Bush, as seems to be the trend among outgoing presidentsawakened to the reality that their party no longer has control (at least for four years), seems to be doing his darndest to make a mess of things with his 12th-hour regulations. Here are a fewgems from OMB Watch. I recommend following the link for a large list. My remarks in parenthesis.
Mountaintop mining, Office of Surface Mining (Interior) — The rule would allow mining companies to dump the waste (i.e. excess rock and dirt) from mountaintop mining into rivers and streams. …
Endangered species consultation, Department of the Interior — The rule would alter implementation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing federal land-use managers to approve projects like infrastructure creation, minerals extraction, or logging without consulting federal habitat managers and biological health experts responsible for species protection. Currently, consultation is required. …
Air pollution near national parks, Environmental Protection Agency — The rule would ease current restrictions that make it difficult for power plants to operate near national parks and wilderness areas. … (The Bush Administration said this rule was withdrawn and would not finalized. Thank goodness!)
Runoff from factory farms,Environmental Protection Agency — Under the rule, concentrated animal feeding operations, i.e. factory farms, could allow farm runoff to pollute waterways without a permit. The rule circumvents the Clean Water Act, instead allowing for self-regulation. (Nice!) …
Drug and alcohol testing for miners, Mine Safety and Health Administration — The rule would require mine operators to test employees in “safety-sensitive” positions for drug and alcohol use. (This is a good one, I suppose.) …
Actually, the rule lifts the ban on carrying, not just loaded, but concealed weapons. Hunters, of course, pack heat in national forests all the time, but not in national parks. In its continual show of ignorant, rabble-rousing, gun-clutching mentality, the NRA made this statement: “‘We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America’s national parks and wildlife refuges,’” said Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist.” and this statement: “Gun rights advocates, notably the National Rifle Assn., have said the ban infringes on their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and their ability to defend themselves from predators, both human and animal. (the Los Angeles Times) The Second Amendment seems to me to be more a reference to military usage of arms, rather than civilian, as the newly formed country had just dispatched the British and were debating how best to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizenry from invading governments (as in the British). The Oxford English Dictionary defines “to bear arms” as “to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight.” But I won’t have the time to flesh this argument out at the moment. In either case, perhaps the Founders should have been more explicit.
But that debate rages on. Bush, in his last days in office, is dining with $499 bottles of wine on summits supposedly about the troubled economy, kissing veterans and doing more harm than good in handing down these midnight “rules” that, at the stroke of midnight, while Bush has turned back into a regular Joe (OK, he will never be a regular Joe, but you get the metaphor), will remain, leaving Barack Obama to pick up the pieces.
(CNN) – The global economy may be undergoing a significant downturn, but the White House’s dinner budget still appears flush with cash.
After all, world leaders who are in town to discuss the economic crisis are set to dine in style Friday night while sipping wine listed at nearly $500 a bottle.
According to the White House, tonight’s dinner to kick off the G-20 summit includes such dishes as “Fruitwood-smoked Quail,” “Thyme-roasted Rack of Lamb,” and “Tomato, Fennel and Eggplant Fondue Chanterelle Jus.”
To wash it all down, world leaders will be served Shafer Cabernet “Hillside Select” 2003, a wine that sells at $499 on Wine.com.
The exceedingly pricey wine may seem a bit peculiar given leaders are in Washington to discuss a possible world financial meltdown, but Sally McDonough, a spokeswoman for Laura Bush, said it “was the most appropriate wine that we had in the White House wine cellar for such a gathering.
McDonough also said the White House purchased the wine at a “significantly lower price” than what it is listed at.
“Of course the White House gets its wine at wholesale prices,” she said. “Given the intimate size of the group, it was an appropriate time for The White House to use this stock.”
The leaders of the U.K., France, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and 11 developing economies have all come to Washington at the behest of President Bush in an effort to express confidence in the fundamental underpinnings of the world’s economy.
Not much in the way of comment here, for this story speaks for itself. It speaks volumes as to how folks with much in the coffers in this country (and others) are unwilling to sacrifice anything whatsoever for the good of all. I point to the automaker CEO’s private jet rides to Washington several weeks ago and their subsequent actual car rides to Washington a couple weeks later, which amounted to not much more than throwing a dog a bone. They weren’t repentant. They weren’t suddenly concerned with the working man’s plight. They were concerned with their image.
So, here we have the Bushes providing $499/bottle wine to world leaders who came to the G-20 summit to discuss the economic crisis. Irony barely even touches the surface. “Given the intimate size of the group, it was an appropriate time for The White House to use this stock,” Laura Bush spokeswoman Sally McDonough said.
This stock? Give us a break. A stock that cost 500 bucks? While engaging in their polite dialogue about the sorry state of the world economy over $500 wine, did it ever occur to them that such extravagance sure could have went a long way to help a working family make ends meet. That $500 sure could have went to feed a family of four for at least a month or two. But nah, dignitaries can’t be concerned with all that. They, intrinsically, need the best of the best. Dignitaries who gathered to discuss a floundering economy that has rendered thousands jobless and homeless are above such sacrifices and have more to worry about than the jobless, hungry children, women and children down the block. To think about how $500 (How many bottles were consumed at the summit?) could have helped a real family make ends meet or feed hungry children is, frankly, shameful, for it was only wasted frivolously and unnecessarily.
Stupid, stupid folks. I understand there are parts of the bill that members of the Senate, mostly Republican, did not agree with, but have these same people been paying attention? There is no time to “go back to the drawing board.” There is no time to retool the bill and then spend more days discussing and voting, discussing and voting, ad nauseum. The auto companies may not even last until the new year.
Why can we not get important measures accomplished at the state and national levels? Partisanship, I would argue, plain and simple.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who played caddy for John McCain through much of the presidential election, said automakers
“… need to make significant, structural changes before they receive federal assistance and those changes should be made in the private sector, ” he said. “No one wants to see these companies fail and workers displaced. I feel for the car dealers and their employees who are being hurt by years of bad decisions made by the leadership of the Big 3. But I also realize that unless major, fundamental changes are made in the way the Big 3 operate, they will likely find themselves right back in the same situation.”
That’s all well and good. And if it happens a second time, no one will be waiting in line to bail these folks out. But right now, not only the fate of the industry (in an incredibly shaky economy), one that exudes the very concept of “Americana,” is in jeopardy, but thousands of jobs in that industry and other associated fields. Sen. Jim DeMint, also of South Carolina, seemed even more adamantly opposed.
DeMint came out early and harshly against the plan, joining four other conservative senators in calling for a business solution, not a “political solution.”
“This is a business and financial problem,” DeMint said, adding that existing bankruptcy laws are designed to allow companies to come out of these situations healthy.
DeMint’s cohort Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told reporters he intended to slow the legislation down, adding, “No one knows what’s in it.” — The Associated Press
First, how can we deal with an auto industry that may or may not survive a ‘pre-packaged bankruptcy?’ Do we have some assurance that the industry could survive bankruptcy given the negative stigma associated with filing Chapter 11? We have nothing of the sort. Second, why on earth is Sen. Shelby claiming “no one knows what’s in it (referring to the auto loan bill)?” The text is right there in plain view. I quote a portion of it in a previous post. I, in my limited capacities, was able to access it. Is Shelby not? I certainly hope he read it before voting on it. Is he too lazy or unconcerned to bother with its details? To claim that “No one knows what’s in it” is at best, sarcasm, and at worst, a lie.
Bush officials made clear that if Congress didn’t act, the White House would have to step in to save Detroit from collapse with funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the sources familiar with the conversations.
Heck, in this regard, Bush and his administration have their heads on straight in standing in opposition to his own party. What are folks in the Republican camp thinking? Are they just being ornery? Are they upset about the forthcoming Democratically controlled House and White House and are just playing naughty? What’s the nature of their abject dissent? Perhaps that’s a subject for a subsequent post.