unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘democrat

Three things everyone can do to make the economy stronger

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I go AWOL every now and again, but certain things pull me out of hibernation. This week’s shenanigans on the Hill have been tacky melodrama at best. There are so very few politicians who know anything about economics, but many know something about theatre. 

If I wanted to hear something completely familiar delivered by a bad actor, I’d have watched a Tom Cruise film. Here are three things we can all do to make the economy stronger. These aren’t things we can all read which will simply make the economy stronger, but things anyone and everyone can do.

  1. Mind your wallet. Ask anyone you know if they’re in debt. When everyone has a little debt, it amounts to a lot of debt. Debt, at a certain point, creates friction in our economy. Get out of debt, start spending your money again and you’ll already be helping.
  2. Attempt to understand the economy. Look up terms you are fuzzy about. Get as realistic a vision of a ‘better economy’ that you can. It won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t happen with our heads buried in the sand.
  3. Understand that the economy is not partisan. The economy doesn’t care if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The economy is not waiting for anything. It won’t suddenly ‘do something’. It is simply a machine to circulate money, and it needs lube.
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Written by unastronaut

February 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Super-delegates never were going to steal the election, but they are Obama’s insurance after a rough patch

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I have a theory. After seeing Chuck Todd say that another super-delegate has jumped ship from the Clinton to Obama campaign, citing the tone of the campaign. A lot of things are happening, and the candidates are each reacting to literally everything. Partly because they’re asked a ton of questions every day. This is a consequence of making themselves available.

I believe the super-delegates are something the media has never gotten right all along, much like a lot of things (Iraq War/WMDs, the impact of rhetoric). They were never going to stroll out of some closed-door meeting and steal the election from the deserving African-American candidate, as many in the media have speculated. They simply are acting as insurance to what the people want, and many of them (seemingly) have wanted the Obama message to catch on with the people, and are all too eager to jump ship when they see polls staying put through “controversy.” The media is known for spin, the people know this, and the super-delegates know it is the positions on issues (ethics reform, the war, the economy and health care) that matter most to people. When people hear change, we’re not politicos, we think of changing the BS in government that has put us in the current predicament.

Just an idea…

Stop the strobe light and see the real world

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Elizabeth Edwards has written a beautiful op-ed piece for the Sunday New York Times (4/27/08) imploring the media to do its job. It seems like it should go without saying, but the media has failed the American people and democracy in general for the better part of the last decade. The media is often referred to as the 4th branch of government, because a free press acts as a check on political power. If the truth is available, it’s much harder to be hoodwinked.

The internet has been the saving grace for many Americans, who know the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is out there somewhere, just not in the mainstream media. Mrs. Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, uses the phrase “strobe-light journalism” to describe the outline-only perspective presented by the mainstream media.

…every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.

She frames the situation far better than I could, and offers a stronger voice. Although a politician’s wife is no more an expert than any blogger, this truth will receive much more airplay because of her higher profile. I don’t believe the media will actually correct this issue, mostly because “the media” is no more a homogeneous group than “the American people”. A few of the pundits and talking heads are beginning to report more on the real issues, even if they fail to point out basic inaccuracies in the positions of each candidate.

For example, John McCain is able to freely attack Barack Obama over his proposal to raise the capital gains tax. I have yet to hear any journalist correct the statements of McCain, although they frequently play the statement and ponder “will this hurt Obama?” It will if nobody speaks the truth. First take a look at Sen. McCain’s attack on Obama.

Senator Obama says that he doesn’t want to raise taxes on anybody over — making over $200,000 a year, yet he wants to nearly double the capital gains tax. Nearly double it, which 100 million Americans have investments in — mutual funds, 401(k)s — policemen, firemen, nurses. He wants to increase their taxes.

Millions of Americans have investments, most have jobs. The problem is that someone making a living from investments alone end up paying half the taxes of the working people. Low capital gains taxes make investments available to more Americans, but most Americans aren’t making more money to invest. Lower capital gains taxes do benefit average Americans to some degree, but the wealthy to a far greater degree. A post at the DailyKos points out just how fundamentally wrong McCain is on this issue.

Investments contained in 401-K’s (Or in the case of ‘policemen, firemen’ usually a 403-B), pensions, IRAs, tax deferred variable annuities, and similar retirement vehicles aren’t subject to capital gains tax — they’re not taxed at all. Changing the capital gains tax rate will have zero effect on them. Withdrawals from tax deferred accounts by retirees are generally taxed at whatever the income tax rate is for that person at the time of withdrawal (Which, incidentally, is usually a hell of a lot more than the current long term capital gains tax rate, yet another way to rip off the middle class).

Many may dismiss anything from the DailyKos, but anyone with an understanding of our tax code and economy can confirm. Of course, people in the mainstream media discredit “far-left” bloggers at the DailyKos and other sites. The problem is, someone isn’t coming clean, and any deeper research reveals it’s the media. Many bloggers can be wrong about their facts, but they can also hyperlink ’til their heart’s content, allowing anyone reading the story to see the sources. Unfortunately, there exists no such option for the mainstream media. They quote and cite themselves as the expert, and we’re asked to accept it as fact.

I’ve always considered myself a moderate, although I’m sure many would call shenanigans. It’s just harder and harder to maintain any moderate views when our democracy has been so hijacked by ideologues who give most conservatives a bad reputation. A recent poll shows that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, which I consider a shame, even though I admit I would like to see a Democrat win in November. A two-party system is divisive in some ways, but it can be divisive to the point of stalemate when the media decides to pick sides and report as a two-party media.

Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker both deserve some serious credit for putting recent comments by Reverend Wright into real context, as I try to point out any time I see the truth told on TV. On today’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, both attempted to point out that Barack Obama has never aligned himself with the views of Reverend Wright. If he ever had, he’d already be out of this race. We know his pastor and his bowling score, now if only we didn’t have to look so hard for his positions on the issues.

Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties. – Elizabeth Edwards

You see, there’s two sides to every Schwartz

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…but you don’t see.

It’s not good and evil. It’s not even black and white and gray area. There are millions of colors in every spectrum. We tend to fixate on two-sided things. Where they don’t exist, we create two sides and divide ourselves based on a line. A line we’ve created, dividing two seemingly distinct groups. It reminds me of this. Are we really that simple?

  • Ask pro-lifers to tell a mother she’ll just have to die, the baby’s life is more important.

  • Ask pro-choicers if abortion at 8 months is OK for everyone in every situation.

  • Ask anti-war people if they hate the troops.

  • Ask proponents of the current war if they believe they are doing evil.

You’ll find a spectrum. Everything gets dumbed down: red or blue, black or white, life or choice, freedom or protection. Good or evil, even. Sometimes even two lone letters: D R (Circle ONE)

It is not so simple. It is. But it’s not.

If we can begin to see this spectrum – on every issue – we will stop witnessing war as a solution, mass apathy, rampant cronyism and lies sold as truth.

  • To people of faith- are prayers answered yes or no?

  • To the science community- are theories always proven, absolutely?

  • Do you monitor and adjust?

  • Do you rise to the occasion?

  • Do you adapt and overcome?

These are proof you understand that life is not getting from Point A to Point B, it is not black and white, it is not night and day – it is a spectrum of millions of small choices made by people, every second of every day.

It’s no coincidence our best work as human beings comes from our notion of the world we know being shattered by something so true it is inescapable. We must find an answer. It drives science, medicine, technology and life.

If we truly want to solve tough problems, we can’t believe there are two sides to anything. We must always look forward, realizing we’ve put away some of the problems of America’s past, shied away from some problems and muddled the rhetoric on issues that affect Americans on a day-to-day basis. The truth is necessary, and for this we must question things. Not syntax and semantics, but fact and fiction. Spin and truth.

Even arguing for people to vote sometimes becomes polarized. To me it looks this way: nobody is asking you not to watch American Idol, shop ’til you drop, have the world’s largest collection of whatever or do anything you choose with your life. Just as temporary obsessions don’t keep us from eating, they shouldn’t keep us from doing our civic duties. Give a little time to the forces that change your life; edit the Wikipedia page of America, if you will.

We must always ask ‘why?’ before we do anything. It’s sad that we don’t listen to children more often.

To some, this will all sound childish and idealistic. I agree, it is childish and idealistic. But children never start wars. Children don’t (often, at least) steal everything from everyone else out of sheer greed. Children wouldn’t hesitate to help everyone equally. Children are little idealists until they reach our adult world. And again, call it childish. You are, in fact, an adult for saying that. Right?

_____________________________

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

– Mohandas Gandhi

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

– Henry David Thoreau

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

– Abraham Lincoln

When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.

– Marquis de Lafayette

Everything in moderation, here I stand

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One of the biggest gripes I have with the climate of modern politics is that the moment you reveal one position on one issue, you are labeled. You can either be a flag waving, gun toting, Bible thumping, English-only speaking conservative or a soy burger eating, latte drinking, secular, high society liberal. It seems like nobody ever recognizes that everyone as wildly differing views, and don’t fit so nicely in those categories we’re given.

John Adams, one of my political heroes, essentially lost his second term for not being partisan enough. He refused to line up before the issue was at hand. I believe in much the same. I also believe it is possible to get America and Congress specifically to where very few things remain on the docket. It may sound idealistic or even absurd, but I believe that is what the Founding Fathers intended by the phrase ‘to form a more perfect Union’ in the Preamble to the Constitution. I wanted to write out just what my positions are on specific issues. This is based on the organization of issues at glassbooth.org with some variations.

______________________________________

On Abortion and Birth Control

  • I support a woman’s right to choose because they are always the most informed on the situation and the realities of a child being brought into the world and their own health concerns. I would also urge the federal government to leave this issue to the states, this is an example of the power of federalism.
  • I support emergency contraception because it is simple, early, safer and to be blunt the earth has a population problem. The United States doesn’t feel that problem, but it exists.
  • I support abstinence and sex education, with an emphasis on sexually-transmitted diseases. Children tend to do the opposite of what you tell them. Don’t just tell them not to, tell them why not and how to be safe if they disobey. It’s called mitigation, much more effective than the all-or-nothing policy of abstinence-only education.

On Civil Liberties

  • I support extending habeas corpus to Guantanamo Bay detainees, knowing the crimes of the accused will not harm national security.
  • I oppose waterboarding and any form of physical or psychological torture, first on the grounds that the counter-terrorism community believes it is ineffective in retrieving actionable intelligence. Especially in a ticking-time-bomb scenario, we need something that produces results. Torture simply undermines democracy.

On Crime and Punishment

  • I support the death penalty as a matter of federal concern, again I believe individual states should decide.
  • I support a drastic rethinking of the drug war, marijuana scheduling and decriminalization. Non-violent drug offenders should not end up in prison, rehab maybe.
  • I oppose mandatory minimum sentencing, instead I support the implementation of Initiative, Referendum and Recall in every state so that judges may be recalled if they do something against the interests of the public. The criticisms of this system are the same as when it began here in Arizona in 1912. That should tell you something, and as a resident, it works. Propositions brought up by the people allow us to offer legislation, which is especially useful in areas where politicians may fear backlash for proposing or voting for divisive legislation.

On Education

  • I support the elimination of the Department of Education thereby eliminating the No Child Left Behind Act, electing to trust the states to use their own existing education departments to compete with each other.
  • I oppose funding schools based on property tax in the area, this is de facto segregation an serves to create socio-economically segregated schools. With all funding coming from the state level, all schools within a district should receive the same amount per pupil and districts with more schools should be given bonuses. This would discourage branching-off to favor one or a smaller group of schools. There is a school within 5 miles of University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play that doesn’t have maps in its social studies classrooms.
  • I strongly support across-the-board raises for schoolteachers, progressively based on level (elementary, middle, secondary). There is absolutely no reason teachers shouldn’t be able to afford to live in whatever neighborhood they are teaching in, on their own salary. Teachers across this country are many of the ones facing losing their homes due to predatory lending and yes, false optimism on the teacher’s part.
  • I oppose standardized tests at the national level. States should be free to do as they please in this regard, but I ask this question: are the tests in the poor schools the same as the ones in the wealthy schools? It’s interesting we put them on the same scale, but not in the same building.
  • I oppose vouchers for education. The biggest problem with vouchers is the disparity in cost between your average private school and the amount these vouchers would grant. In Arizona, private schools’ tuition averages about $6,000-9,000 per year. Schools are only paid on average just shy of $4000 per student, per year. Anyone with another few grand can easier afford to send their children to nice schools, but poor families who have no way to pay or transport their children are out of luck.
  • I oppose merit-based pay. There is no fair way of brokering this system. Teachers who inherit stronger students (affluent areas with less crime, strong feeder schools) are at an advantage. This would only serve to discourage any teacher from looking to work in areas in highest need of teachers.
  • I support a period of mandatory public service for youth. When you feel like you own the house, you take better care. It’s the same with a nation, everyone should take part in building it and making it better.

On Environment and Energy

  • I support taking action to reduce the impact of Americans on the environment. Preliminary debate should be aimed at collecting the issues which establish consensus, such as gaining energy independence. Not only would renewable energy sources stabilize our economy and create jobs, but also reduce fossil fuel dependence (if not emissions).
  • I support pushing for international consensus points on the issue of environmental friendliness. Begin with broad and basic examples, and work with the international community on a truly global problem.
  • I support a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, where businesses may purchase carbon credits to offset emissions. It would really do nothing but push money in different directions, but it would reward those who are best on the environment. In my eyes these are well aligned incentives.
  • I support the pursuit of nuclear energy. We’ve got to get past stigma and phobias to realize, cleaner is better than dirty and dependent. We should always be working toward the best, most efficient and cleanest energy sources available. The problem is becoming complacent.
  • I strongly support a drastic effort to improve public transit, not only within urban centers but also interstate. There is no reason we cannot have bullet trains and an alternative to the airlines, one that doesn’t take days to reach a destination or confine us on a small bus with odd people.
  • I support increased fuel standards for automobiles in the United States. If only to make sure the domestic auto companies can compete, because in reality we’re getting killed in the auto market. It isn’t really even wise to buy an American car if you truly want to make the best purchase for your own self-interest.

On Gay Rights

  • I support civil unions for gay couples. I wouldn’t oppose gay marriage in any way, I just know this issue is the kind of thing that will require baby steps to overcome the hypocrisy in any “separate but equal” government stance.
  • I support extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples, to strengthen those families. They are, in fact, families. They shouldn’t worry about custody or inheritance if one dies simply because they aren’t a traditional couple.

On Gun Control

  • I support background checks for the purchase of firearms. This is just a matter of conscience. Our government keeps better tabs on people buying fertilizer than guns. I don’t think it should go any further, but making sure people aren’t violent criminals isn’t too much to ask.
  • I oppose a ban on assault rifles. “When guns are outlawed, outlaws will brandish cologne.” Did I get that right? No, that was Dave Barry, but I do think that if we outlaw assault rifles then the only people who will have them will be true violent criminals.

On Health Care

  • I support a universal system of health care. I believe that modern technology and government transparency will make this system work. The exact same people will be doing the diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures so I don’t understand why people think the service would crumble. The truth is, you can go to Canada, you can ask a Canadian. They will tell you, their system works and people are happier and healthier. This would have collateral effects far beyond just health care.
  • I believe the government involvement in health care would help to bring costs down, because the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be able to swarm such a large group at once.

On Immigration

  • I support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants existing this country. The process of deportation would be lengthy and expensive.
  • I support deportation of all illegal immigrants convicted of a felony. With some exceptions, such as known gang members with a history of deportation and re-entry.
  • I oppose a physical fence along the US-Mexico border. Barriers don’t keep people out, they keep you in. Whether you realize it or not, this kind of thing will make us no safer but will speak volumes to the rest of the world and future generations. A border fence would only bolster the human smuggling trade and send business into a dangerous criminal cartel.
  • I oppose making English the official language in the United States. This is frivolous and sort-of xenophobic, and would only create problems getting care or court services. We should instead be mandating all American school children learn two or even three languages throughout their school years, beginning in elementary school.

On Iraq and Foreign Policy

  • I support beginning withdrawal of troops from the war in Iraq and a shift in focus to Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.
  • I support the President urging China to cease selling weapons to those committing genocide in Sudan and urge Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama.
  • I support a lifelong commitment to the health and mental well-being of anyone who enlists in the military.
  • I support a foreign policy of tackling all issues diplomatically. I’m tired of presidents who think 4,000 dead American servicemen is better than even trying to a conversation with an adversary.
  • I support multi-lateralism in every major global action, through the United Nations or NATO.
  • I support using foreign aid to combat poverty and disease, and to provide business opportunity through microcredit loans.
  • I support ending the trade embargo with Cuba and beginning a new era of relations with our neighbor ninety miles from Florida.

On Medical Marijuana and Drug Policy

  • I support doctors making marijuana available for medical use. Many medical professionals would put their years of education and professional reputation on the line for something that millions of Americans believe should be legal for medical purposes.
  • I oppose federal raids on sick or dying patients prescribed medical marijuana, and their health care providers. This is cowardice and going after the lowest man on the totem pole.
  • I oppose the wasteful War on Drugs. The money only creates a giant bureaucracy and a court and prison system flooded with non-violent drug offenders, costing the taxpayers billions.
  • I support the rescheduling of marijuana, from Schedule I to Schedule III on the federal drug scheduling system. Compare for yourself.

Schedule I

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Examples: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy), methaqualone (Quaalude)

Schedule III

  • The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples: Anabolic steroids, ketamine (Special K), synthetic THC (Marinol)

On Social Security

  • I support privatizing social security. While simply stopping the highway robbery of the social security trust fund would probably right the ship, privatizing is more American. To be honest, nearly everything needs competition. Everything that isn’t a matter of true government concern. I think the government is more responsible for promoting a healthy population than for giving them peanuts by garnishing their grandchildren’s paychecks during retirement, but that’s me.
  • I oppose raising the earnings cap on social security. The more you make, the less you need social security for retirement.

On Taxes and Budget

  • I support the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service in favor of a Fair Tax system, which generates the same revenues by taxing consumption rather than income. The dumbest thing America does is tax the one thing it needs every able-bodied American to do, work. We don’t tax rampant consumption aside from marginal sales taxes, which often create negative externalities which tax dollars must address. Under the Fair Tax, you can make as much money as you want with no increase in tax due to income. Read more about the Fair Tax.
  • I support an amendment requiring Congress and the President to balance the federal budget every year.

On Trade and Economics

  • I support free trade with few restrictions. Trade can be the most powerful vehicle for positive change in the world, we must always prepare for creative destruction.
  • I oppose any increase in the federal minimum wage. This generally only leads to more inflation with little actual benefit in the long run. In the short run hours are usually cut, so the benefit is moot.
  • I support many government subsidies for farmers, however I believe fruits and vegetables are disgustingly underrepresented(around 3% of overall subsidies). This relates to illegal immigration as well, because if we subsidized fruits and vegetables more we might be able to attract American workers to pick strawberries in California or lettuce in Arizona. Just a thought.
  • I support normal trade and diplomatic relations with China. Our President should, however, continually be urging Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama and make visible strides in the area of human rights.

_____________________________________________

Let me know if there’s anything I should add to this list, and feel free to discuss my stances. You don’t need to waste your time just to attack, but reasoned debate is very welcome.

Written by unastronaut

April 15, 2008 at 10:31 am

Posted in barack obama, Blogroll, current events, Economics, economy, education, election, government, hillary clinton, illegal immigration, iraq war, john mccain, kiva, microcredit, philosophy, Politics, ron paul, vote 2008

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Going silent on non-issues, earmark moratorium tells a better story

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I’ve decided to only allow myself 24-hours to react to what the modern media calls “news”. This includes the syntax and semantics arguments, surrogate attacks and guilty-by-association campaigns. I’ve already over-covered the Obama “bitter” remarks, as has most of the news. We push out stories of the struggling economy, the global (a word you’d think meant ‘unamerican’) food crisis, the endless war in Iraq and actual legitimate issue debate for this kind of crap. For my own sanity and health, I’ve got to stop caring so much about what people think about what people say. Does that make sense?

Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post has a short but great piece with two videos as Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama address the same crowd on Obama’s remarks about rural America. The response was telling: people don’t care about that crap. We don’t need the candidates to run a popularity contest just because the mainstream media wants to make this election into one.

The more I look into each of the candidates, the more I realize they are all a giant leap forward from the current administration. My remaining concerns are economic, and I see no great option here. McCain’s choices for supporting cast will be a major tell, although a preliminary look tells me there are far too many Bush administration cronies in the bunch. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney had a far greater economic bearing. Then I remind myself that unless it is working to get your friends no-bid contracts, a VP really has no major role in shaping economic policy.

This earmark moratorium introduced by Jim DeMint of South Carolina would have been a great win for the taxpayer. The names of four co-sponsors names caught my eye. Jon Kyl is among the most fiscally responsible in the Senate, and someone I trust highly with my tax dollar. John McCain, Kyl’s colleague from Arizona is also a co-sponsor, as well as both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The moratorium would ban any earmarks in legislation for the 2009 fiscal year.

Earmarks are requests for money by a specific legislator, usually for his constituency, added onto often unrelated government spending bills.


The problem with earmarks, he said, is that “we don’t know if [the projects] are valuable or not.”
CNN

In rare occasions the earmarks are for semi-worthy job-creating projects. Most are not so worthy. This moratorium failed 29-71. We really do need a sea change in Washington.

All three candidates are more for the people than the Bush administration, which is a high priority for me. The strength of this country is our freedom to disagree, not just as individuals but on a state-by-state and city-by-city basis. It’s the basic idea of federalism. Those in California and those in Oklahoma should not have the same exact laws. That’s why our federal government should always remain very small. If my loud noise bothers my neighbor, my city can pass an ordinance. We don’t need a Constitutional amendment preventing loud noises everywhere.

Memo Signed By Bush, AUTHORIZING TORTURE, Surfaces

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This memo undercuts the frame that the recent ABC torture story suggested, by simply not mentioning the central role of the president in the NSC, that George W. Bush was elsewhere when decisions were made about torture. Now, we have signed memo indicating Bush was probably at the helm.

read more | digg story

It will be interesting to see how this shapes up as it is investigated further, but the idea that this could be true gives me shudders. Not because I am a George Bush hater, I actually have voted for him. I have always been a critic of his cronies, and his defense of them (see Alberto Gonzales, Michael Chertoff, Mike Brown just to name a few). Much of my criticisms have come because I care more about this country and the documents it was founded upon than I do any one head of state. This isn’t a country where we should get blinded by an administration. That’s why the interview for this job is extremely public and extremely long. We aren’t electing a saint, we’re electing someone to lead our country.

This story saddens me because of the state of our Constitution, our basic civil liberties, habeas corpus. A corrupt few have essentially been responsible for an irresponsible and unjust war, the loss of 4,000 American servicemen and countless American and Iraqi citizens and the resulting orphans, a de-regulation ravaged economy and millions of Americans soon-to-be homeless, and billions of dollars in no-bid contracts making those few and their friends filthy rich. President Bush is not a Republican, he’s not a compassionate conservative, he’s nothing at all like the man people voted for in 2000. The neo-conservatives are not representative of the beliefs and values of everyday Americans who identify themselves as Republican. This party stands for small government and fiscal responsibility, not the Department of This-and-That and a $500 billion war on loan from China.

Tell me Mr. Bush, how can a man give you information as his brain and nervous system are permanently damaged from simulated drowning? This isn’t even torture, it’s sadism. I’m all for getting information to prevent further terrorist attacks but by using methods that actually yield results. The origins of waterboarding during the Spanish Inquisition and its use in Cambodian prison camps not far from the Hanoi Hilton where John McCain’s resolve on war was strengthened should tell us this is not tactical, it’s torture.

I truly thought there was more good in President Bush than there apparently is, if this memo is accurate. Given the recent coverage of discussions in the White House involving Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the fact that Ashcroft himself knew “history will not judge this kindly”, it’s really hard to believe there’s not more we don’t know that would horrify most of America. Keep in mind, for these interrogations to be at all effective, they must take place before any trial. In the ticking-time-bomb scenario you can’t wait to establish guilt. So all of these torture methods would be ineffective in getting actionable intelligence if they occurred after we know for a fact the person is guilty and knows something. We are in a war without an opposing uniform and the difference between being a criminal deserving of habeas corpus and rights of the accused and an enemy combatant deserving of no respect for law or the Geneva Conventions is essentially a label.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations:

An “enemy combatant” is an individual who, under the laws and customs of war, may be detained for the duration of an armed conflict.

“Enemy combatant” is a general category that subsumes two sub-categories: lawful and unlawful combatants.

Lawful combatants receive prisoner of war (POW) status and the protections of the Third Geneva Convention. Unlawful combatants do not receive POW status and do not receive the full protections of the Third Geneva Convention.

I want our government to be strong on terrorism, but when we’re in Iraq making orphans I’m not feeling any safer. When we knew there was no link to al Qaeda and Iraq, that should have told us that this isn’t a War on Terror. As Republican presumptive nominee Senator John McCain and President Bush both beat the war drum toward Iran, we must remember that al Qaeda is also too extreme for their society in Iran. They are not training terrorists, they just want to be left alone and know that our presence in Iraq could threaten them if we did, for example, convince our population that Iran is now the enemy. We must always remember that our true enemy is in the mountains in Northwest Pakistan and spreading back in Afghanistan. We can’t forget that the reason we don’t have proper focus on Afghanistan and possibly why we don’t have Osama bin Laden in custody today is because we’ve diverted our attention to Iraq.

I have been raised as a student of history, not Democrat or Republican. I was supposed to see what everyone did right and wrong remembering all were human beings, none were gods. That’s how I approach the election. There are three people who have the potential to set the direction our country heads. Much like President Bush, who really only represents a small portion of the Republican party, we are electing a very powerful person.

We are electing the person who may give more of our own rights back, who may give back some of the executive power usurped by the Bush Administration and the person who may bring our loved-ones home without any fear of attack. For the world, it’s the person they find more representative of who we are as a nation, of what we think about possibilities and powers of the people. For the world, we can export democracy in the same way anyone truly exports religion, by example only. The people of Iraq, and they are just people like us, will see our election and wonder what that means for their future.

This truly will be a historic election. Think of the storyline if the wealthy old white man is elected to continue the charge on a war perpetrated upon lies and destroy our economy to pay for it. We’ll tell history: we haven’t learned anything.

Now the AP and MSNBC are reporting the same story, I love how stories break to Digg and a few days later they end up in mainstream media as “Breaking News”. It still lends more credence to the stories of just how vicious our heads of state and their advisers have been during this War on Terror, which would have had nothing to do with Iraq had there not been false claims of weapons of mass destruction and a stubborn commander-in-chief. We are living in sad times, in the words of John Ashcroft “history will not judge this kindly.”

I had to update this page with an example of what waterboarding means. Everyone should get a fair idea for what we are actually talking about, simulated drowning dating back to the Spanish Inquisition, and be able to voice your opinon.