Category Archives: Politics

I despise politics, but sometimes I rant anyway.

Political Moron

I’m downright ashamed to admit that when we moved, I completely forgot to re-register with the County Clerk to vote, so I am not registered to vote in Solano County. I may still be registered to vote in Yolo County; I’ll have to call the Yolo County Clerk and check with them.

This is very important to me. While I have very little faith in the competence of the people who claim to run our country, I believe it is of the utmost importance that every citizen of our nation actually gets out and votes. It is, after all, the very basis of what our country has been based on: the right to choose our own government, and to be governed wisely by the people that we choose.

On the other hand, those who know me probably won’t be surprised to learn that I am extremely cynical about the state of our political system. I used to be less so; but then Clinton was impeached, and I realized that within our system, partisan viewpoints are much more important than what is just and true. I frankly think that is a sorrowful state of affairs.

I don’t really know if either political party really knows what it’s talking about when it comes to domestic policies. Republicans seem to subscribe to a myth that if government funding for public programs is cut, then people will somehow generously give money to charity to make up for the decimated social programs (but let’s think about this: if you had five bucks more in your tax return, are you going to give it to a charity or buy yourself a burger?). Democrats, on the other hand, seem to subscribe to a myth which says that the government has some level of competency in distributing funds. Personally, I have a little bit more faith in the second myth, which is why I tend to vote Democrat, though I rarely register as Democrat OR Republican. On the whole, I find the party system rather absurd.

My cynicism has expanded of late. While I used to maintain some faith in the political processes in some other countries, I am now of the opinion that, in the face of all of the troubles in the world, there are people who simply don’t want solutions. For example: I honestly believe that neither Israeli Prime Minister Sharon nor Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat want a solution to the conflict in the Middle East. I base this on the observation that none of the proposed settlements have even been worthy of consideration in their estimation.

I don’t believe that the British or the northern Irish really want a solution to the problem of Northern Ireland. And I don’t believe that Colombia wants a solution to their troubles.

I certainly don’t believe that India and Pakistan want to settle their dispute.

I’m beginning to doubt that the government of the United States really wants a solution to terrorism. If we did, then I think we’d be focusing more energy on the conditions that foster the terrorist mindset than we actually do.

I guess I’m not entirely cynical. I do believe that there are people within the government who are honorable and courageous and unwilling to compromise their principles or their sound judgement for what’s popular and trendy. It’s possible that such people have even made it to the national level, though I think that such people are probably weeded out by the time they reach the state level. I believe that the last President with anything resembling honor, courage, or moral character was Jimmy Carter; too bad he was such a poor politician. I had some faith in Clinton’s ability to lead (I honestly don’t believe that his transgressions had any bearing on his leadership abilities), but I find President George W. Bush sadly lacking in character. I’ve been impressed with some of his domestic policies, but more impressed with his willingness to piss off the leadership of other nations to make himself look good at home.

I try to be optimistic about the future of humanity, but I’m finding that it’s more difficult to do that these days. The corporate world offers no refuge, of course (not that it ever did). The Enron scandal is only one sign of what I see as a deep-rooted and ultimately deadly trend within American business to sell out principles and honor in the name of a buck. I believe that companies which prostitute their technology to sell censorware to totalitarian governments such as China and Saudi Arabia represent the very worst in American business, and are a disgrace to our nation’s ideals and principles.

I am a very firm believer in principles and honor, and standing by them no matter what. I believe that, as a nation, we have improved in our ability to stand by the principles that we believe in, but I don’t believe that such ability has come from the top; it has come from the bottom, from activists and people willing to sacrifice everything but their integrity. And I believe that if our leaders had such integrity, we would be an even stronger nation and a stronger role model for the rest of the world. But as long as we insist on racial profiling in the name of "security"; as long as we believe that money is more important than true American values; and as long as we believe it’s okay to play fast and loose with international cooperation; then our integrity is not visible and we are not worthy of the principles and values we claim.

Whew. That’s quite a rant. Normally, I loathe talking politics, and will avoid the subject whenever it comes up in conversation; but I’ve been listening to the news and becoming more and more distressed over what I’ve been seeing, I’ve finally had to get it out of my system.

It’s out now. Thank goodness. Now I can get back to normal stuff.

But the point is: get out and vote.

Too Much to Ask for?

I really believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I believe that people are generally good, that things are improving, and so on. I even believe that most people, even politicians, usually want to do the right thing. I don’t believe that the government is evil, or out to get us; I believe that the government is, on the whole, comprised of people who are just as human as I am and prone to some of the same fears, stupidities, vanities, and mistakes that I am prone to. I don’t believe that President Bush is evil or despotic, but I do believe that he’s a bit of a moron who has allowed his anxiousness to please his deep-pocket friends to override his common sense.

It was my optimism that took a bit of a blow today, though, when I saw the article at Yahoo! News that indicated that President Bush had signed an executive order which will allow the military to conduct trials of those accused of terrorism, instead of the civilian courts. I guess that it makes a certain amount of sense, if you decide that we are in a state of war with a generic class of people called "terrorists", but I honestly think that that’s stretching things a bit. I had always thought that war was declared on nations and states, not on ideologies (though I suppose all wars start in ideologies anyway).

I don’t believe that the government has been clamoring for years for an excuse to erode at our civil liberties; that sort of thinking I usually let the conspiracy nuts and militia goons handle. Personally, I think that the government would understand the value of controlled dissent in an oligarchy, just as in 1984 and Brave New World, rather than shut down all freedoms. No, what saddens me about this is that it’s more a sign of fear than anything else. The government is allowing its fear of further terrorist attacks to direct its actions in the "War on Terror". Between this and the announcement that attorney-client privilege between accused terrorists and their legal counsel has been suspended, one really has to wonder what will happen to ordinary citizens who for some reason or another find themselves accused of terrorism of any kind; and what constitutes terrorism in any case? I’m not extremist enough to believe that speaking out against the government’s actions in the "War on Terror" will itself constitute terrorism in the government’s eye (I’ve always been glad to live in a country where, despite its other faults, you can vote how you want without fear of being gunned down outside the polling booth). But I can’t help but worry how far things will go before it gets better. Even McCarthyism came to an end.

Today, I met with the pastor at our church. She and I both agreed that a religious faith (or any mode of thinking, for that matter) just isn’t worth the neurons it’s thought with if it can’t stand up to doubt and questioning and incorporate new challenges. I feel that the same thing applies to principles and values, especially at a national level. If our national ideals of democracy and civil liberties can’t weather the crisis that we’re currently facing, then how important are they really?

Indeed, it seems to me that it’s in crises like these that we need to hang on to our national ideals the most. Not only do we need to stay united as a nation, but we need to stand more firmly than ever behind the values for which our nation stands.

Or is that simply too much to ask for?

On another note, I discovered that some unsavory characters had signed up on my notify list for no other reason than to get new e-mail addresses to send spam to. I’ve unsubscribed any e-mail addresses that looked suspicious to me, but the damage has already been done. If you were subscribed, and you’re one of the Good Guys, my apologies! Sign up again! But the list is restricted now to those who are willing to submit a first and last name.

A Safe Little War

I saw on that the first wave of U. S. strikes against the Taliban have begun this morning. The Taliban has moved 8,000 to 10,000 to the Afghan borders to defend itself. We have somewhere between 30,000 to 50,000 troops in the region — nothing like the huge buildup we had in the region in 1991 in preparation for a war against Iraq, but enough to significantly outnumber what the Taliban can bring to bear. And while the Taliban may possess U. S. trained guerillas, they also have thousands upon thousands of empovershed citizens who don’t really give a damn one way or the other since they haven’t really eaten in decades. I don’t have a doubt that we’ll win some sort of victory. I just hope that it isn’t at the cost of thousands of innocent lives.

This is just the beginning, of course. If we go back to my old analogy of terrorists being like ants, then this is just like the first stage in the battle: spraying Raid on the first colony you find, for example. This isn’t going to be a "media-friendly" war, where you can send reporters in to the battle scenes, since the strikes will probably be quick and surgical when the "nests" are found. So, just like in the Gulf War, we’ll have to rely on official military briefings for news of what’s happening.

I’ve been paying attention to the conspiracy theorists, some of whom believe that the attack on September 11th was orchestrated by the Bush Administration to shore up a sagging presidency and a weakening economy. It didn’t work for Bush Sr., of course; winning a decisive victory in Iraq gave him the highest approval rating of any president in U. S. history, but that didn’t stop him from losing to Bill Clinton in the presidential elections just a few months later. And Bush, Jr., has years to make mistakes; no, this sort of orchestration would have been better done towards the end of his presidency (and much as I dislike Bush, I doubt that he would sink so low as to engineer the deaths of nearly six thousand people on American soil just to make himself look good; the chances of being found out are too great and if he ever is found out then what happened to Nixon would pale in comparison to what would happen if Bush were found out; Bush may be a moron but he isn’t evil).

I worry about "safe" wars. We saw during World War Two, with the Holocaust, just how low humanity is capable of sinking (and I think it should be mentioned that Hitler and his crew, who were white, engineered millions upon millions of deaths of innocents, far more than extremist Muslim terrorists ever have), and we saw more of it during the Vietnam War. If the media is removed from the battlefields, will we forget that war his its horrors and its villainy and evil, since we’ll never see them? I hope not.

In one of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek television series, "The Armageddon Factor", two planets have waged a war against each other for centuries. Their war has become "clean" and "sanitized", and computers do all of the fighting. When the computers inform the population that a bomb has struck a city, all of the people in that city go to extermination chambers to be killed cleanly. Captain Kirk destroys the computers that wage this virtual war; when asked, "What are you doing?" by the outraged leaders of the two worlds, he tells them, "I’ve made war what it’s supposed to be for you: dirty, evil, horrific. Now maybe you’ll finally make peace."

I’m worried about the innocent people of Afghanistan whose only crime was to be forced into a totalitarian regime that doesn’t care about them; I’m worried about how such sanitized conflict as this one is liable to be will affect our country’s moral fiber. On the other hand, I’m encouraged by how far out of their way the government and the media in our country seem to be going to make it clear that it’s terrorists who are the enemy here, not Islám; President Bush has visited mosques, television commercials present Arab Americans prominently, at least one interfaith ceremony involving Congress featured a Muslim Imam praying for peace. The terrorists who struck on September 11 represent traditional Islám no more than Fred Phelps or Jerry Falwell represent traditional Christianity.

I am an optimist. I believe with at least a big chunk of my heart, if not all of it, that humanity has progressed morally over the centuries. I believe that the age of the "Big Wars" has passed, that we’ll probably never see another massive large-scale combat like World Wars I or II. I believe that there will one day be world peace, but that it may be, literally, a thousand years before it is achieved.

I hope more than anything that our country has learned from its mistakes in the past with regards to this sort of thing. We have a history of going in, supporting rebels and freedom fighters, then leaving them in the lurch and having them come back years later to bite us in the rear out of bitterness and fury. Witness Saddam Hussein. Witness Osama bin Laden. Heck, witness Germany (I’ve heard more than one historian claim that if Germany had not been so crippled by the peace treaties that ended the First World War, then the Second World War would probably have never happened). This will probably be the end of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan; I really hope that we’re willing to stick around afterwards and help clean up our own mess for a change.

This Day

I am having such a hard time finding words tonight. From the first moment when I saw the hints in my mailbox that something was wrong to watching end of the day footage on Fox, I’ve been numb. Jennifer and I have been trying to make sense of all of this, and I can only imagine what must be going through the minds of the families of the victims and those who were there to witness the devastation. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be aboard one of those planes in the last moments. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be trapped underneath the rubble of one of the collapsed buildings, not knowing whether you’ll be rescued, not even knowing what has really happened.

I’ve never had sympathy for terrorists. I’ve had sympathy for their causes, for the innocents harmed by the stupid political games that nations play (I honestly believe that politics have killed more people than any other natural disaster), but terrorists have always struck me as one of the lower forms of life, lower even than Congressional bureaucrats. What point can possibly be worth killing more people than have died in any peace-time man-made activity?

We’re going to be coming to grips with this for a long time. We may never know exactly how many people died in this mindless attack. We may never know why one jet crashed in Pennsylvania instead of reaching its true target. We may never even know who’s responsible for this amazingly well-coordinated attack. Government officials are pointing the blame at Osama Bin Laden, but there’s no real evidence of his involvement right now. No one has claimed responsibility, and I find that more frightening than anything else for some reason.

I know that my own shock and horror are miniscule. I’m still alive and I know no one who was killed or even injured in the blasts. I can only hope and pray that those who have lost loved ones will find comfort, that we as a nation can find the strength to heal, and that we can all avoid allowing our own anger and hatred to overwhelm us and spread the horror even further with racist attacks on Arab Americans or worse. has set up a PayPal link to the American Red Cross, which needs both money and blood. Please contribute as much of both as you can.

Everything I Need To Know I've Learned Since January 20, 2001

President Bush’s first 100 days or so has certainly been instructive to me; I’ve learned quite a bit, most of which has proven to me that everything I ever thought I knew was wrong. For example:

  1. Arsenic is good for you.

  2. Good neighbors are good, but good enemies are better.
    China would probably be a good ally, but it’s better to piss them off. You never know when you’ll have to divert attention from a sagging economy or messed up domestic policies with a strong-arm conflict with a large nation. Same with Russia. Planning ahead, you see, is very important. Besides, when was the last time we had a good arms race? And treaties, like rules, are meant to be broken anyway.

  3. Good friends are good for you
    Especially when those friends have lots and lots of money. Lots. And when they help you get elected. Be sure, though, that you reward those friends with everything they want, regardless of whether those rewards are good for anyone else.

  4. Clean air is bad for you, bad for your children, and bad for the planet.
    Of course, the health of the planet doesn’t matter anyway. The health of your children matters — barely — as long as concern for their health doesn’t get in the way of rewarding those rich friends of yours.

  5. Conserving what is in limited supply is bad. Wasteful consumption is good.
    Just ask Smilin’ Dick Cheney.

  6. There’s no such thing as a non-renewable resource. Everything is in infinite supply.
    Again, just ask Smilin’ Dick Cheney. In spite of all available evidence that suggests that fossil fuels are in limited supply, there really is an infinite pool of oil and coal existing in an alternate dimension just beneath the surface of the earth, more than enough to justify building one power plant per week, every week, for the next twenty years. Most of the portals to this Dimension of Infinite Oil are located underneath wildlife reserves.

  7. Animals just don’t %@#$@ matter!
    They’ve been telling us that for years! If an species is endangered, just let it freakin’ die out already and decrease the surplus population! If we started a job of extinction, we’d better finish it off. Winners never quit, and quitters never win.

  8. When you have alienated half the nation (or more) then you have achieved true bipartisan unity.
    Not to mention most of the rest of the world as well.

It’s good to see that my old feelings about politicians in general were justified all along.

Just remember: If God had wanted us to vote, He would have given us candidates. Sheesh.

The Circus is Over. Why Won't the Clowns Leave?

When it comes to politics, I agree firmly with Douglas Adams: anyone who is capable of getting themselves elected President should, under no circumstances, be allowed to have the job. And for President this year, I was very close to writing in Colin Powell’s name, for no other reason than because he stated quite publicly that he is not at all interested in the job; I can’t think of a better qualification than that. (Of course, there’s also the part of me that wanted to vote "No" for President, or "None of the Above", or to write in the name of Cthulhu — after all, as they say, why settle for the lesser evil?)

Politics, especially partisan politics, disgusts me. I’ve voted Democrat in just about every election I’ve participated in — which, I assure you, has been every election that’s occured since I turned 18 — but it’s not because I believe that the Democrats are morally superior to the Republicans or any other party out there; it’s just because, out of all of the crop of politicians that are out there, they disgust me the least. That’s not to say that I really care for the Democrat party, of course, or that I’m even registered as a Democrat — I’m actually registered as an independent, in the hopes that this keeps me off of partisan mailing lists when election years roll around.

I admit, though, that I do get a sick joy out of watching Presidential campaigns; it’s like looking into a Kleenex you’ve just blown your nose into. The depths to which people will sink in order to become President inspires me, sometimes, to think back to the one class I took in college on Abnormal Psychology and wonder what might be going on through these peoples’ minds. But, all in all, watching a campaign makes me realize that there really is nothing about any of the candidates that really inspires me to vote for them. With the 2000 election, I had some respect for Al Gore until he announced his position on the Elian Gonzales issue, which made me realize that he really was into it for the politics, just like Bush. I only voted for Gore because I knew that with him, I might wind up a little less annoyed than with Bush in office.

But this year’s election has really brought things to a new low, I think; and the ironic thing is that the election is, technically over. We just don’t know who won.

Neither side wants to concede defeat, of course, and with less than a thousand votes in the balance, I don’t blame them. Al Gore’s campaign wants a hand recount of the ballots in Florida, which makes sense to me. What angers me, though, are those Republicans who call Gore a "whiny bitch" (this is a direct quote from a radio talk show host); as if Bush would have done any differently had he been in Gore’s position.

And now Bush’s campaign is seeking to put a halt to the recount. This, honestly, disturbs me more than any other aspect of this year’s election. Frankly, I’m frightened of a President who would be willing to halt an election if there was even a slight doubt about his prospects of winning. It reminds me far too much of some of the autocratic techniques I read about in Eastern European countries, or of the old Soviet Union. This sort of thing is a direct threat to our nation’s democratic process; a President should not even consider the possibility of interfering with an election, let alone a Presidential candidate who hasn’t even won the election. If nothing else, it tells me that Bush is scared of the will of the people and the possibility that he might lose, and that convinces me even more that Bush is not at all qualified to be President.

I admit, sadly, that Bush will probably be the next President of the United States. This, coupled with a Republican-dominated Congress, will probably set our nation’s social progress back a good ten to fifteen years, and further alienate us from the rest of the world. My only consolation is that Bush will understand, at least on some level, that he won only by a technicality, that the people of the United States don’t really want him there, and the Republican majority in Congress is held only by a hair. And, in some ways, I’m kind of glad that Bush will be president; I predict that the US is going to go through some very shaky times over the next four years, and I’d much rather have a Republican take the fall for what’s coming up than a Democrat. This same thing happened in 1988, when George Bush, Sr., was President; after eight years of faked prosperity under Reagan, things started to go downhill once Bush became President, and in 1992 the Republicans lost the white house. If nothing else, we will probably have another Democratic president in 2004 (and we will probably see Hillary Clinton running for the nomination that year as well). I’m not joining in the debate over the continued existence of the Electoral College; I understand its importance and its place in our nation’s history.

Presidential campaigns are like a circus: a long, dull, vitriolic, angry circus filled with surreal clowns and an audience who is too annoyed to laugh but too morbidly curious to leave. But now the curtains have supposedly been drawn over this year’s show, and I really wish the clowns would leave. Or, at least, that they would all stop trying to convince us that they were the best part of the show. Sheesh.