Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bush Shoe Thower Gets Three Years

I am surprised. The fella who threw his shoe at Bush only got three years. I expected him to get a much more harsh sentence, since he embarrassed Iraq. As funny as it was, there is still the serious side to consider. Basically, the man attempted to assault the President of the United States. Had it been in this country, the same would have happened to him. He would have been wrestled to the floor and arrested. I expect that he would have received a similar sentence. In fact, he might have received a longer sentence here.

All in all a pretty fair sentence I would say. The difference is the prison. I expect that he will suffer more in prison in Iraq than he would here, depending of course on which federal prison would have been selected. Some of our federal prisons here are pretty rough. I certainly would not want to be incarcerated in Atlanta, for example.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You Can't Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear

The inevitable has happened. The starry-eyed romance of Bristol Palin and her boyfriend has come undone. She got a baby to raise out of the deal. He gets to go make more of them with whomever he can find. The conservative media and the Governor of Alaska tried to make him into the boy wonder, but the bottom line is that he is a high school dropout, who doesn't have a job, and his roots seem to be in the world of illegal drugs. Nothing new.

He is destined for trouble and Bristol has become another statistic in the single, unmarried teenage mother category. Yet another example of poor parenting and a lack of good sex education, either at home or at school. Spouting scripture and talking "values" does not stop pregnancies. It's a shame, but it happens daily and it appears there is no end in sight.

Michael Steele Crashes and Burns

Poor Michael Steele. He should have known better than to accept a job with the Republican Party. He should have realized that his selection was simply a token attempt to negate President Obama's ground breaking election. The Republican Party is not an inclusive party. It is an exclusive party. Oh, there are African Americans in the party, but not in positions of leadership. These African Americans are touted, when it becomes necessary for Republicans to try to show that they are all inclusive.

Since becoming the Chairman of the RNC, Steele has made attempts to start the changes necessary to bring the Party back into the mainstream, but he has been rebuffed at every turn. His ultimate embarrasment had to have been when he was forced to apologize to Limbaugh. Now some Republicans are already talking of Steele's replacment. It is rumored that a no-confidence vote is scheduled for late this month. The runner up to Steele in the election for RNC chairman, Katon Dawson, is said to be lining up votes in anticipation of Steele's demise.

It is obvious that the Republican Party is struggling with its identity. Steele's election was ill fated from the beginning. The South is the Party's comfort zone of right wing religious and racial politics, and Steele was an odd choice for a party so polarized. He must have felt terribly lonely, when he arrived at the RNC's headquarters to begin his job. He tried to confront the demons in the RNC's closet, only to have the door slammed in his face.

The powers that be in that Party at the moment do not want to hear of compromise or a softening of stances on the RNC's core issues of abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, and religious domination of the goverment. They do not want to do anything that appears to move this country forward. Their goal is to be as obstructionist as possible in the hopes that the current administration will fail. It is a big gamble on the RNC's part. If Obama is successful, the Republican Party will be outside the mainstream for many years to come.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Finally, after the darkness of the Bush administration and its repudiation of good science in favor of politics and backward thinking, a new day dawned in Washington. President Obama has lifted the ban on federal funding for stem cell research and opened up new lines for research. Once again those who suffer from so many dreaded diseases and conditions may have some hope for cures and relief.

Researchers who have spent their lives working on solutions to so many complex issues can breathe a sigh of relief, because science has been freed from the burden of religious fervor that dominated government during the last eight years. I will never understand how those, who pat themselves on the back for being so Christian, can stand in the way of research that might unlock the mysteries that cause such suffering among their fellow humans. How could they stand by and say no to something that might allow a person with a spinal chord injury to walk again? How can they doom those with progressive diseases like MS or Parkinson's, when a stroke of the pen might bring a cure?

Already, the nay-sayers are cranking up their followers. The devil, Obama, is turning the government in to a baby killing machine. Woe is us. Armageddon is nigh. We told you so. On the other hand, WWJD? I think he would say "up anchor, and full speed ahead. Free my children from the bonds of suffering, so that they may live life to the fullest." This all reminds me of a line from a favorite song of mine. I had the pleasure of meeting one of its writers a few years ago:

Would Jesus be political if he came back to earth,
Have a second home in Palm Springs, and try to hide his worth.
Take money from poor folks, when He comes back again,
And admit He's talked to all those preachers who say they've been a-talking to him...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Arutz Sheva and the Jewish Uproar Over An Obama Appointment

Yesterday, Dirk published a post about the appointment of Charles W. Freeman as a member of the National Intelligence Council. He quotes from an "Israeli National News " or Arutz Sheva article, condemning the appointment, and calling Freeman "anti-Israel." For all practical purposes the article made Freeman out to be some kind of terrorist. After having read the post, I decided to find our more about this "Israeli National News."

Arutz Sheva is a right-wing Religious Zionist organization dedicated to the support of Israeli colonization efforts. It began as an off shore radio station in the late 1980's and was eventually shut down by the Israeli government. The Knesset, in 1999, passed a bill legalizing its operation but the law was overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court. In 2003 ten of its employees were convicted of operating an illegal radio station from within the country. It now broadcasts over the Internet, and provides news, also on its website through "The Israeli National News."

Religious Zionism is generally right-wing and is based on the belief that Israel should exist, because God gave the land to the Jews in perpetuity. They believe strongly in military service and dominate some sectors of the military. Originally, most Zionists were atheists, who based their philosophy on Marxism. Over the years religious Jews migrated to the Zionist point of view, leading up to today's religious Zionists. Those settlers expelled from settlements in 2005 were religious Zionists.

It would be understandable that Arutz Sheva, then, would condemn Freeman's appointment. Freeman was appointed to the Saudi Arabia ambassadorship by Bush Sr. in 1989. He is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs and has in an instance or two criticized Israel's actions. He even had the audacity to say that Hamas is a democratically elected government, which, of course, it is. (That does not legitimize it or excuse it's terrorism.) In doing so, he, predictably, riled the "pro-Israeli" lobby. Anyone who dares express concern about Israel's actions or the United States' unquestioning support of that country is immediately branded a terrorist-lover or anti-Israeli by these people. Most of the criticism of the appointment that I have found has come from Jewish pundits, who immediately upon leaning of it, put their steam roller into gear in the hopes, I'm sure, that Obama or Freeman would withdraw the appointment.

Let us hope that Freeman does not leave the government. It is time that someone stood up to the Israeli lobby. It is time that someone took a look at the United States' support of Israel and the billions of dollars in aid that we provide that country. In return they have spied upon us, killed our sailors, and have repeatedly invaded and destroyed their neighboring countries, leaving us to pay millions more to repair their damage. It is time they paid to repair their dirty work. Granted, they have to defend themselves, but the mass destruction that they seem to enjoy has rarely worked. It primarily serves to further enrage the Arabs against them.

I do not want to see Israel destroyed, but I would like to see some reins put upon their aggressiveness and a review of our financial support. However, I do not expect the Obama administration to review our support of Israel. Like his predecessors, the President is quite pro-Israel and has no plans to withdraw a dollar of support. I do not expect our policies to change in the foreseeable future. Even if a politician had thoughts of making changes, it would be political suicide to do so. We have made our bed and, unfortunately, we will have to continue to lie in it for better or worse, or until Israel finally snaps and uses its nuclear power. That, my friends, will be "until death do us part."