Archives: May 2002
Thursday | May 30, 2002Saving the Everglades, saving brother Gov.
Pres. Bush announced a plan to buy back energy drilling rights off the shore of Florida and in the Everglades.
Environmentally, the deal is great. But politically, it's as cynical as they come. In one fell swoop, Bush boosted his brother's re-election bid as well as his own presidential chances in 2004. So after months of trying to use "national defense" as an excuse to drill in Alaska's Artic National Wildlife Refuge, Bush turns around and takes a sizable chunk of the nation's natural gas off the table.
How to rationalize the decision? The Bushies claim there is a big difference -- Florida's citizens didn't want any drilling in the environmentally sensitive areas, while Alaska's citizens do. This excuse has drawn scoffs in the press, but I don't think it's a bad rationalization. So long as Bush is consistent:
California officals are already demanding Bush end a fight over undeveloped offshore oil and gas leases off its coast. As Gov. Davis' spokesperson said, "What's good for Florida certainly is good for California." Polls in California have consistently shown public opposition to offshore drilling. Thus, by Bush's own logic, the feds should step in and buy back the leases.
However, California is a lost cause for Bush and the national Republican party. Thus, expect to see all sorts of tortured rationalizations as to how California and Florida are different.| 05:36 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Wednesday | May 29, 2002Edwards playing for real
There has been some speculation in the media lately that Sen. John Edwards of N.C. is not a serious presidential candidate. The thinking goes something like this:
I'm skeptical. First of all, I am highly impressed with Edwards as the potential democratic nominee. True, it's early, and true, he's unpolished. But he brings a level of charisma reminiscent of Pres. Clinton, he is a true southerner (unlike Gore) who can compete in the South. He is not the liberal Sen. Kerry is, but after Bush, I am far more pragmatic than I might otherwise be. And Edwards doesn't offend me where it matters. If he's pro-gun, that only means more votes in southern states. The gun issue is a loser for Democrats. It's not worth it (more on that some other day).
Edwards would not do well in either Iowa or New Hampshire, but he wouldn't have to. He would probably skip those two contests and focus his firepower in the first southern primary, South Carolina (which is the second primary, after the Iowa caucuses and NH). He would do well there, and continue to do well across the south. Is that enough to win the nomination? Who knows. There are far too many intangibles this far before the campaign. But I really don't believe Edwards is aiming for the VP.
Aside from that, I truly believe the Dems need to nominate a female VP this next election cycle. I am extremely gung-ho on Maryland's Kathleen Townsend Kennedy, though she is currently locked in a tight primary battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. California's Feinstein would also be a great choice. The Dems cannot continue fielding all-white, all-male presidential tickets, if it hopes to keep the party's increasingly diverse base motivated.| 06:00 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
When is Cuba not like China?
This is a great synopsis of Bush's ridiculous Cuba policy. I especially like this part:
The New York Times noted how Bush, then the governor of Texas, had said the lifting of trade restrictions on China in 2000 would "help export American values, especially freedom and entrepreneurship". The Times noted that "certifiably free elections were not demanded from China".| 05:48 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Iraq war losing momentum
I generally enjoy getting my political news from right-wing sources like latest editorial calling for an invasion of Iraq. The article has tinges of desperation, as the editors see the possibilities of an Iraq invasion evaporate before their eyes.
It was conservative columnist Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times who first broke the story that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were adamantly opposed to an Iraq invasion. Apparently, the NRO editors have come to the same conclusion (conservatives have always had far better sources in the Pentagon than liberals), and are desperately trying to ratchet up the stakes: It's no longer the war on terrorism. Now it's the war on anyone who, well, I'm not quite sure. In their words:
It isn't just Saddam's WMD capability that should prompt the U.S. to rid the world of his regime as soon as possible, but the fact that his ouster can be just the beginning of an effort to transform the Middle East and to root out Islamic radicalism at its sources. It would give the U.S. the foothold to work on toppling, or radically changing the behavior of, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh, and their client, whoever that may be at the time (Arafat or some other Palestinian strongman), in Ramallah.So, according to the NRO, we bomb the crap out of Afghanistan, then bomb the crap out of Iraq (with no international support), occupy the country, bomb the crap out of Saudi Arabia (after occupying its oil fields, no doubt), bomb the crap out of Syria, and THEN, after all that death and destruction, declare victory against Islamic radicalism? Wow. | 05:40 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Bush is desperate to hold off an independant investigation into 9-11. The right-wing National Review is pessimistic Bush will succeed, noting that even without an independent investigation, there will be plenty of other investigations looking into the matter. Senate Democrats are already looking into the matter, and it's only a matter of time before "official" investigations are announced. And, Republican senators will be in no position to obstruct the hearings.
What the article doesn't state is that in addition to the intelligence committee investigations, and multiple committee investigations, and a possible blue ribbon panel independent investiation, you will have every Pulitzer yearning investigative reporter digging for the scoop of the year. Every leak will have added significance, and every event up to 9-11, whether coincidental or real, will be a dot to be connected.
Given that Enron is heating up, the multitude of 9-11 stories soon to emerge will put a serious dent in Bush's armor. And that's assuming that the SEC's new investigation into Halliburton and its last CEO, Veep Dick Cheney, doesn't become a political issue.| 05:25 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Tuesday | May 28, 2002Didn't get his nappy time?
A tired and cranky Bush went off on a reporter this weekend. The reporter had asked Bush an unpleasant question -- about protests Bush faced in Europe. But Bush really got ticked when the reporter asked the same question to French President Chirac in Franch:
Very good, the guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental." ([The reporter] offered to go on in French, but that only made things worse.)Literate in two languages? I didn't realize he was literate in one language... | 06:47 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Are there any blacks in D.C.?
From Germany's Der Spiegel: During Bush's last Latin America tour, the perpetually perplexed Bush asked Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso: "Do you have blacks, too?"
Condoleezza Rice jumped in to save the day: "Mr. President, Brazil has more blacks than the USA. Some say it is the country with the most African blacks." (Okay, that's my translation of Der Spiegel's translation, so it can't be too exact.)
Cardoso observed dryly that when it comes to Latin America, Bush "still has a lot to learn."
While this story may be humorous (or depressing, I can't decide which), it points to a much deeper problem for Bush. The story ran in Germany's premier newsmagazine (kind of like "Time" or "Newsweek" in the US) ahead of Bush's European tour. The lead-in paragraph basically pokes fun at the Bush's inept understanding of the world around him, a theme oft repeated in the European press.
While Bush's unilateral tendencies may lead him to ignore such criticisms, or dismiss them as irrelevant, it does means that international opinion has zero confidence in Bush's understanding of the world. They poke fun at his "axis of evil" comments. They love to trot out examples such as the Brazil story above.
And when Bush tries to make his case for perpetual war against Iraq, Iran, and the rest of his comic book villians, the world shrugs, laughs, mocks, and eventually gives him the big finger.| 09:20 AM | Link | Comments (0) |
Monday | May 27, 2002"Security" at airports means empty guns
For months I have been telling anyone who listened that National Guard troops in airports were probably carrying unloaded weapons. I was right.
It's funny to me how the AP is breathlessly reporting this "scoop". Anyone with any kind of military service would know that the armed forces rarely trust their troops with loaded guns. I served in the US Army during the Gulf War. As my Germany-based unit didn't deploy, we were forced to do guard duty around our post. Yet, while we were on high alert for terrorist attacks, we never once received ammunition to properly defend ourselves.
Aside from that, the National Guard is a poor force to help guard airports. Their M-16 weapons are Vietnam-war era vintage. My rifle in 1989 was a newer model than those I saw in the airports. And, the M-16 is not design for close-quarters combat. It's a medium-range weapon. Airport security in countries outside the US usually carry short range submachine guns, such as Uzis. The M-16 is unwieldly and ackward when facing enemies just meters away.
Finally, regular Army units, and National Guard units, I pressume, do not receive training in close-quarters combat. That has always been the domain of the Special Forces. Thus, we have had ill-trained, ill-prepared and unarmed civilian-'warriors' patrolling our airports. And not to increase security, but to "[calm] people down and [give] them the assurance that we were doing something." Too bad they really weren't "doing something".| 08:51 AM | Link | Comments (0) |
Sunday | May 26, 2002Running scared
Remember when in the darkest hours following 9-11, Bush hid in the cornfields of Nebraska? Well, as our fearless leader now admits, "I was trying to get out of harm's way."
Um. Okay. Maybe not so fearless.| 09:41 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Iraq invasion loosing steam
The Bush Administration is backpedaling from plans to attack Iraq. No surprise. Bush was eager to keep the nation on a war footing, probably surmizing his high poll numbers depended on it. However, the recent 9-11 disclosures have brought the Bush administration's competence into question. I believe that a few months of investigation leaks will further erode Bush's war glow.
But more importantly, a war against Iraq was always a near impossibility. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait both refused to take part or allow the use of US facilities on their soil. Iran was clearly out. Bahrain was non-commital, but the nation only has naval facilities the US could use. US planners planned on Turkey's help, but Ankara has legitimate fears of Iraq's breakup (including the possible creation of a hostile Kurdistan).
Thus, any invasion of Iraq would have to be carried out by airborne and marine units -- both high risk, high casualty routes. Air power would have to be provided by aircraft carriers and the distant airbase at Diego Garcia. Both would be adequate options for limited-scale strikes, but not to support a full-scale war against Iraq.
Finally, a cornered Saddam would have no incentive to hold back from using chemical, biological, or (possibly, but unlikely) nuclear weapons. And the target would be Israel. International opinion is nearly universally opposed to an attack, while Brittain's PM Blair faced a revolt within his party over initial support. Brittain's support was becoming increasingly unlikely.
Thus, while the Bushies will insist Iraq is still a target, they will do so only to keep the pressure on Saddam.| 06:51 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Anti-Castro sentiments making mess of US Latin American policy
I was devastated when Bush named his Latin America state department team. Otto Reich has been an eager proponent of pro-US governments throughout the hemisphere without regard to democracy or human rights. The Venezuela coup fiasco a month or so ago clearly proved my worst fears were well founded.
Part of the problem is that most of these so-called foreign policy "experts" stem from the only pro-GOP segment of the Latino community -- Cuban Americans. Their rabid anti-Castro, anti-communist sentiments cloud their vision to a degree unimaginable to most casual observers. Indeed, one of the arguments for supporting a military coup against a democratically elected government was that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez provided Castro's Cuba with oil. This while we trade with communist China and the police state of Saudi Arabia.
Venezuela aside, these wingnuts haven't forgotten their raison d'ętre -- the continued (and inneffective) isolation of their long-time nemesis Fidel. However, their cause long-ago lost its moral clarity, and the bulk of the American people, and Congress, now favor restoration of ties with Cuba. Thus, in a desperate gambit to tie the War on Terror to their war on Cuba, John R. Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, added Cuba to their baby axis of evil nations. The reason? Cuba was supposedly manufacturing biological weapons. The evidence? Cuba is the number one supplier of medical vaccines in Latin America.
The horror. How dare Cuba export vaccines!?
It was thus with smug satisfaction that I read the following piece from the Miami Herald. In short, the US commander of military forces in Latin America and the Caribbean stated flatly that Cuba was not building biological weapons. The general also wonders why Bolton "chose to raise the issue". Is the general that clueless?
Jeb Bush and 2004. Florida is a true swing state. So long as the Cuban American community can swing votes, Cuba will be on the right's crosshairs.| 06:30 PM | Link | Comments (0) |
Bush and Putin on nickname terms
I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. I believe government has an obligation to create an even playing field for all of this country's citizens and immigrants alike. I am not a socialist. I do not seek enforced equality. However, there has to be equality of opportunity, and the private sector, left to its own devices, will never achieve this goal.| 12:57 PM | Link | Comments (0) |