Thursday, September 27, 2007

Domenici Doesn't Love Me

You know, sometimes I've been known to write stuff elsewhere than here. (Which is good, actually, since my output here has hardly been record-breaking...) For example, one week ago today, our Congresscritters blocked a bill that would have done a simple thing - it would have given our military equal time away from the battlefield as they are forced to spend getting shot at and blown up.

New Mexico, as you might be aware, has two Senators: Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman. One Republican rubberstamp for Bush, and one human being. And I've been known, whenever I'm feeling like getting illegally wiretapped, to express myself to the people who are supposed to be representing me in Washington. Now, Bingaman, while he may not be a fire-breathing maverick, at least had the common decency to say "Yes. I believe it's only fair to let you come back to America and get shot at less often."

Domenici, on the other hand, being a shriveled, dried-out worthless bag of pus, decided to block this act. Pretty much like the Republicans have chosen to block everything that the Democrats try to do, because they're the worst example of partisan hacks in the history of the government.

So I decided to express myself on this subject. I suppose that, to be completely fair, I should probably have also written Bingaman and thanked him for supporting the military, but I didn't. I went to Domenici's website, and wrote this.
Senator Domenici,

You just voted to block a bill that would have allowed troops to spend as much time at home training with their units as they spend deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan (and Members of the National Guard or Reserve would be guaranteed three years at home before being sent back). This would have allowed them to be better rested, better trained, and more likely to survive. Oddly, you apparently don't want that.

I understand that you did not, yourself, spend any time in the military. I spent 21 years in the military, and two tours in the Middle East. Perhaps you don't understand the stress of family separation, combined with the uncertainty of survival for the troops in Iraq. Almost 4000 of our soldiers have died, and tens of thousands have been injured by our ill-considered invasion of another country. A country, incidentally, that was not involved in any way with the 9/11 conflict, despite the White House conflating the two consistently for the past seven years.

Your disdain of the troops and your dismissal of their well-being disgusts me, Senator. If you believe that we need more servicemen and women, you should try to institute a draft (preferably one that forces the children of the rich and privileged to serve alongside their less-fortunate counterparts). That is, if you really believe that you could ever get reelected after that.

You have eight children, and presumably a number of grandchildren. Without knowing anything about them, I will guarantee that none of them are in the military. And I doubt that any of them ever have been.

There is no reason for American troops to be in Iraq. The Iraqi people don't want us there: they are in the middle of a civil war. Iraq is not a hotbed of anti-American terrorists - they merely want the foreign invaders out of their country.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is not a threat to any Americans, except those in Iraq. Even General Petraeus agrees with that.

Your vote in this matter shows that you are no longer in touch with the feelings of the people you represent, and that you do not care about the welfare of the military that you sent, and keep sending, into Iraq.
See? I didn't call him a "shriveled, dried-out worthless bag of pus," or anything. I didn't insult him in any way, although I did suggest that his actions disgusted me.

Normally, when you write your Congresscritter, they are polite enough to write you back. Although I have noticed a tendency on the part of Domenici's staff to send out a canned response that is occasionally barely related to what you wrote him about - usually just some speechwriter's platitudes.

Well, it's been a week now, and no word from Domenici.

Very strange. I'm not in the military any more. You'd think he'd have started to care about me by now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why aren't they smarter?

You know, a major study at NYU and UCLA recently proved that conservatives don’t react well to changing circumstances, and liberals do. And we can show the truth of that with recent politics.

Take, for example, Dick Cheney. Didn't people make fun of him enough during his original claim that he wasn't a part of the executive branch of the government? In responding to a subpoena from the Senate Judiciary Committee, first he says that he's upset that they didn't just ask him first.
-- The issuance of the subpoena to this office was procedurally irregular. First, the committee did not follow the congressional custom of sending a letter to this office requesting the material before it sent the office a subpoena.
Because Dick's always been so open and forthcoming on these matters up until now, right?

But then they're right back into the trenches with this bizarre Vice Presidential confusion regarding how the government is set up.
--In the performance of executive functions in support of the President, the Vice President respects the legal privileges afforded by the Constitution to the presidency, such as the Executive Privilege protecting among other things national security secrets and policy deliberations. Similarly, in the performance of legislative functions, the Vice President respects the legal privileges afforded by the Constitution to the Senate, such as preservation of the confidentiality of a session of the Senate with closed doors over which a Vice President may preside.
Now, I admit that I'm not fluent in Lawyerspeak, so perhaps there's some other translation of this that I can't work out. But it looks to me like he's continuing with his bone-headed contention that he is neither completely in the executive branch of government, nor in the legislative branch.

(I believe it was that great philosopher Jon Stewart who said that he was part of the mystic Fourth Branch of Government.)

You know, President Bush is known to occasionally sign a bill into law. Does this mean that he's also part of the legislative branch? (I shouldn't say that too loud. They might actually try that...)

The first time that Cheney tried to claim that he was not part of the executive branch, he backed off as soon as Congress tried to agree with him. After all, the government couldn't support double-dipping. So, as Rahm Emanuel put it, "we will no longer fund the executive branch of his office and he can live off the funding for the Senate presidency."

But see, Dick got caught just trying, as he always has, to do exactly what he wanted to do and damn what other people want. And in support of his whim, he makes some brain-dead statement like “I’m not part of the Executive Branch. Even if I do claim Executive Privilege every so often!” And then he doesn’t know what to do when people call him on his arrogance and stupidity.

It's always been about the money for Dick Cheney. He was the CEO of Halliburton for quite a while, only getting out when he decided that being the hand-up-the-backside-of-the-Bush-puppet would be a viable job to put on his resume. And then Halliburton kept getting billions of dollars in no-bid contracts from the government, but nobody felt that it was unreasonable for them to be paying the Vice President millions of dollars every year. Can somebody explain that logic to me? Is that the "free market" they keep talking about? Buy a politician and get rich?

And now the Republicans want to expand the battle into Iran. (Or Syria, if you ask Joe Lieberman.) Where's the money going to come from for that? We stripped the economic surplus that Clinton left him years ago, and now, Bush owes more money to foreign countries than every president ever, added together. Not "than any one president has ever owed." If you add up the foreign debt of every president from Washington to Clinton, you end up with a sum that's less than what Bush now owes. And we owe this money to countries like China, who've never been our friend. (Isn't that like owing money to Guido the Loan Shark? You're fine until you get behind on those payments. Then a couple of boys might come around and "explain things" by breaking a few kneecaps...)

Again, there’s no logic involved here. Where is the money coming from? The White House keeps telling us that we have to stay in Iraq "until the mission is done." Without, of course, telling us what the mission is. It’s always some nebulous argument like “they don’t have travel agents, so they won’t be able to get to America unless we leave. And then they’d just be able to follow us!”

And they don’t bother telling us how we’re going to pay for staying in Iraq, much less moving along to the next Middle East country. Except that we’re pretty sure that Bush isn’t going to pay for it by taking his tax cuts away from his rich friends.

So obviously, we're going to pay for it by continuing to take money away from repairs to our crumbling infrastructure, by failing to improve the air traffic control system, and by not ensuring that our poor have adequate health care.

I don’t understand any of this. But that’s the problem with the Republican mindset these days. They get one idea (say, "going into Iraq might be a good idea”) and then they can’t think of anything except succeeding at this mind-numbingly stupid plan, even if the facts prove that their idea is unachievable or self-defeating. They don’t react well to changing conditions.

For an example of this, let’s look back a few months, at the actions of one sad little Idaho Senator named Larry Craig. On June 11, Senator Craig went into a bathroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, lurked around for awhile, went into a stall, waved his hands under the divider, tapped his foot against his neighbor’s foot, and was then arrested for lewd behavior. He then pled guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct (probably hoping it would all go away), and he then tried to retract his guilty plea (probably because it didn’t go away).

OK, so he went into this bathroom stall looking for something. Maybe a place to relieve himself, or maybe for a little homosexual excursion. It doesn’t matter. Either way, whatever it was Larry Craig was looking for was suddenly interrupted. Suddenly, whatever it was that he wanted, whatever portion of the lower torso he wanted to relieve, he abruptly found himself being arrested.

Now, consider how he reacted – he panicked. Where was the crime? At what point, in fact, was he even particularly disorderly? He could easily have brazened it out. "Well, I lowered my pants as I sat on the toilet. Maybe the policeman saw my hands at that point. I don’t know what he thought he saw." Do you mean to tell me that there isn’t a lawyer in Idaho who could have gotten those charges dropped? Hell, a Public Defender could have made this whole thing go away in twenty minutes.

And is Larry Craig gay? Hell, I don’t know. The facts, such as they are, don’t look good, though. (I guess it would be polite to ignore the men who've claimed to have sex with Senator Craig, wouldn't it? Rude to the men, perhaps, but at least polite to the senator. And that's what's important, right?

I see this as a somewhat twisted metaphor for Iraq. George Bush, who became the least-documentable member of the Air National Guard in order to (successfully) avoid going to Vietnam, decided that he wanted to get his war on, prove he had bigger cojones than his dad (whose "victory" didn’t seem that impressive to him), and he found some friends who wanted very badly to get a permanent base in the Middle East. So suddenly, he’s a "war president."

But when his plans go awry (waving his hands in Fallujah, tapping his foot against Anwar Province), he refuses to accept the inevitable. What he’s doing now is what Larry Craig should have done – Bush found himself a Public Defender named Petraeus who was willing to say "Nothing was wrong in that bathroom! See, they're succeeding admirably!"

Understand, I'm not saying that he's right. I'm just saying that he's mounting an effective defense. We'll ignore that the statistics are openly cooked. We'll ignore that deaths are up in Iraq. All we have to do is listen to Bush, and everything will be all better.

He’s not failing. He’s just taking a wide stance on Iraq.