Thursday, October 27, 2005

Get the message, Mr. President?

Does anyone else think that the recent Harriet Miers brouhaha brings aditional insight into how things are actually run in this administration? Cheney and Rove have been distracted by the investigation into their apparent involvement in getting even with Joe Wilson, who told the truth about WMD and the Bush League lies leading to the Iraq war. They may not have been fully in the loop about the Miers nomination, thinking that the woman was leading a search for a candidate. Perhaps she discovered herself, as Cheney did when he was heading the committee to find a vice presidential candidate for Bush. Or maybe not.

Maybe Bush and Harriet are just so close that he decided to reward her zeal and opinions of him by nominating her for the vacancy without checking with his distracted advisor, and the man he calls Vice, or his fanatic fringe “base.” At any rate, he did it. He nominated his very good friend and personal lawyer, Harriet, surprising everyone.

And who worked hardest, before any hearings even started, to bring down the unfortunate nomination of Harriet Miers, who seems distinguished most by her lack of distinction? Bush’s ultra right wingnut “base.” And they did it.

That seems to say, “Sit down and shut up, George; you know you are not really in charge here!”

Some have suspected it all along. This has just been one more little drama to provide evidence that W is a puppet. And when he slipped his strings and became a real boy for a few days, he got into all sorts of trouble with his merry band of Giapettos, the behind the scenes owners of the administration.

You can bet the next nominee will have the blessing of the ultraconservatives before the name is announced. Who knows? We may have been better off with an unqualified Harriet than the person that group will choose.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Enough is enough if you are tired enough

With all the greed, corruption, lies, crime, and decadence paraded before our collective awareness, we are apt to forget that mankind does sometimes makes progress, if only a little. Still, evolutionary progress is better than none. And in the absence of intelligent designs to hurry that progress, we probably should pause now and then to give credit to evolutionary improvements through the efforts of good people wanting a better civilization, or at least a fair shake.

Slavery was abolished in this country by a proclamation during the Civil War. As everyone knows, however, blacks were not given the status of whites, either legally or socially, at the war’s end in 1865. One may easily argue that there are still cases of racial discrimination in this country. Few could argue, however, that there have been improvements. And many of those changes occurred after what happened fifty years ago, in 1955, ninety years after the end of the Civil War.

Rosa Parks recently died at age 92. People fifty and younger cannot fully understand where America was in 1955, when Rosa Parks, a black woman then 42 years old, refused to give her seat on a bus to a white man who demanded it. It is simply difficult to believe that there were laws in this country only fifty years ago that said she should stand if a white wanted to sit. We have changed for the better in now thinking that law so unbelievable and wrong.

Rosa was turned in by the bus driver, arrested, and jailed. And our nation began to improve just a little faster in response to that immoral indignity. The leadership of Martin Luther King, and the forward march of the civil rights movement, in general, can trace their quickening to Rosa’s act, which she said years later was not so much a matter of courage as that she was simply tired. Her defiance of the law had not been arranged ahead of time by any group or organization. She had not planned it herself. She was simply tired. And tired of so unlawful a law. So she refused to get up. It seems to me that makes her even more heroic.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bush: "I'm a leader who gets things done."

I was at a longtime friend’s home on Superbowl Sunday a few years ago when the Packers won. As the broadcast showed the celebrations on the field and in the Green Bay locker room, we were told that the president was making a congratulatory call to the winning coach. Viewers soon listened in as President Clinton chatted briefly.

My friend growled that Clinton should be working for the country, not making phone calls to athletic coaches. I remember asking if it was so bad for a president to take a break on a Sunday to watch the Superbowl. My friend said it was, that there had to be something more important for any president to do than make phone calls to coaches, even on Superbowl Sunday.

I didn’t pursue the discussion, as we have a tacit agreement not to argue politics. But I suspect the friend’s complaint was prompted by his dislike of that president. I have observed that Bill Clinton can do absolutely nothing acceptable, so far as my friend is concerned.

I mention all this because I’d like to put aside our non-aggression pact and ask the same friend how he feels about some of the current president’s activities. I cite Bush’s spending nearly half of his time in office on vacation before the tragedy of 9/11. And almost as much time since. But I don’t know how much of the nation’s work Bush can do when he is not in Washington; so, questioning vacation time may be a murky area from my view point so far away from both D.C. and Crawford.

But there are other reports of Bush activities, discussed here in no particular order, that also make me wonder if my friend’s statement about Clinton having better things to do than making a Superbowl Sunday phone call might be an appropriate kind of question to raise about this president. For example, Bush spent almost two months at one stretch during the last campaign away form the Oval Office. And since his reelection, he has spent about that much time, again at one stretch, stumping the hinterlands to chat with invited audiences about his privatization plan for Social Security which would “compound every day.” Who is running the West Wing during those times? And the nation?

I suppose one might question the time spent away from the country’s problems simply to throw out the first pitch of the baseball season if one wanted to be as critical of Bush as my friend was of Clinton.

There was the newspaper report a few months ago about a small plane that invaded White House air space in midday of midweek, causing the Secret Service to evacuate both the staff and Laura Bush. The president was off cycling with a friend in Maryland somewhere and was not even told of the threat or evacuation of his wife until after the situation had played out and the president had finished his ride.

There was a vacation Bush hastily interrupted to sign “emergency” legislation concerning Teri Shiavo. And, perhaps most notably, the five week vacation in August when he had no time for Cindy Sheehan, but flew to Tucson to chat with an invited group of senior citizens about medicare reform on the day Katrina hit the coast.

Perhaps because of criticism of his slow response to the hurricane, Bush has visited New Orleans eight times...so far... and he also flew to Colorado "to monitor" clean up/rescue efforts along the coast. I can't help wondering why he couldn't monitor that from the Oval Office, or at least from the White House "situation room."

And he interrupted the August vacation to fly in Airforce One to Illinois for a photo opportunity bill signing one day and to New Mexico for another signing ceremony on another. Those trips were just shortly before Bush told the country that we should all conserve gasoline. May I ask if those bills could have been signed in the Oval Office, saving a few thousand gallons of fuel?

How about that fake video visit with troops in Iraq? You know, the one where the stumbling president demonstrated that it was he, not the troops, who needed rehearsing. What benefit for America was accomplished by that staged chat?

A small-item report last week mentioned that the president had quit a little early on Friday, leaving for Crawford about 3:00 p.m. Curmudgeon that I am, I really want to ask my friend if perhaps there isn’t something important these days that the president might be dealing with in the Oval Office on a Friday afternoon.

Another small item appeared today, causing me to expound on this whole subject. Under a series of little stories in my paper, grouped as “Also in the News” is a report under a tiny headline, “Bono chats with Bush about world poverty.” It says that the president met with U2 front man Bono and talked about the world’s poor. The paper further reported that the British rock star and Bush then had lunch together in a private dining room, after which the president showed Bono around the Oval Office.

If I wanted to be almost as critical of this administration as my friend was of the last one, I could suggest that all the trips and activities I have mentioned seem to be evidence that those who make the president’s schedule and pull Bush’s strings work hard to find little things for him to do to keep him away from his desk and out of their hair.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Words reveal the way we think because we think in words" DUH!

A lack of judicial experience from Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has reporters digging for some sort of evidence of the way she thinks. Miers wrote a column in THE TEXAS BAR JOURNAL when she was president of the Texas Bar Association in the early 1990s. She called it, "Presidents Opinion." Columnist David Brooks cites a few sentences written by Miers to illustrate the quality of her thinking. For one example: "We must end collective acceptance of innapropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism." And another: "We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective."

Of course it is not wholly fair to take a sentence or two from years ago out of context and use it to criticize the writer's judicial qualifications. But even the two examples I quote from Brooks' more extensive column can give anyone with a sense of clarity a view of Miers' mind at work, whatever her qualifications might be for the Court. So read her sentences again.

Any evidence there of mental depth? Of a keen mind at work, a mind appointed to argue incisively and write with clarity as a Supreme Court justice?

Try one more. Miers is further quoted as having written, "There is always a necessity to tend to a myriad of responsibilities on a number of cases as well as matters not directly related to the practice of law." Anyone for a hearty "Well, duh"?

Language ability is a picture window to the mind. So when Bush, in arguing for the privatization of Social Security accounts says, "And they tell me the private funds will compound daily," thinking people get more than a glimpse into his mind at work. So with Miers' writing. We look into the way she thinks. Or doesn't.

Somehow I am reminded of a comic book hero of mine from years ago. The simple minded innocent Li"l Abner used to say, "Good is better than evil because it is nicer!" That seems to me to be about the same level of thinking exibited by too many members of the Bush League, including the president and his personal friend and attorney, Harriet Miers.
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I chuckled at a bumper sticker being advertised: "Jesus was a liberal. Now what is your point?" Even bumper stickers are sometimes deeper than words from our leaders!

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Why wouldn't Miers say Bush was most brilliant?

Did you see the column by Los Angeles Times Syndicate writer Cal Thomas about the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court? It appeared October 4. Thomas expressed guarded concern that Miers might "drift to the left," as other judges thought to be conservative have done in our nation's past. There is not enough of a paper trail to determine adequately, suggests the writer.

Anything is possible, I suppose. But what jumped from the columnist's page to jolt my mind-eye coordination was the following: "One person who knew her, former White House speechwriter David Frum, writes of Miers on the National Review Online, 'In the White House that hero-worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.' ..."

So Thomas said that Frum said that Miers said that Bush is “the most brilliant man she had ever met." I suppose one could easily check out Frum's statement. I shall, however, take Thomas at his word, that Frum did write that. I doubt Miers, at this point, would deny having said it; so, I shall take Frum's word as well. And that brings me to Miers' statement itself.

A Supreme Court nominee, age sixty, says she has never met a man more brilliant than George W. Bush!

Well.

That may rank up there with the statement by the first Bush declaring, "Clarence Thomas is the most qualified man in America to serve on the Supreme Court."

Of course the president can't win with potential critics. This nominee has stirred Latinos to say they are being ignored. Cal Thomas, and other ultra right wingers, have doubts about Miers' conservative authenticity. And people on all sides are scratching their heads at this point wondering about Miers' experience and qualifications. Criticism will only intensify.

There is no requirement that a Supreme Court justice be elevated from a lower court judgeship. There is not even a requirement that a justice be a lawyer. So Bush may or may not be nominating Miers from a position of weakness, as some pundits have suggested, in order to avoid a fight over a nominee's lower court record, since she has none. But the president is technically within his rights to nominate an inexperienced, very close personal friend, "distinguished by the intensity of her zeal," someone who says he is, "the most brilliant man she had ever met."

Admit it; kissing up sometimes works. Hell, I might nominate Miers as well, if I were an arrogant president, and she claimed to feel that way about me! Oh, come on! Loosen up and admit it. If you were an arrogant president, you might, too. We need not always be curmudgeons.

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