Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Monty Haul Heroes

Courtesy of a strange dream last night, having the superpower to dissolve parliament is not much of a superpower. Batman seems to have done reasonably well turning his "superpowers" of being rich, in good shape, and insane into something that works, but none of my creative abilities suggest a clever superhero use for dissolving legislative bodies. That said, today's entry is mostly about politics from various aspects.

  • BushJr is the decision-maker, and says "give me a chance" for his new plan for Iraq. I wonder if we would be seeing this second plan if the House and Senate hadn't made their shift towards the middle, or if the old plan would've continued.. I have no idea what the right path WRT Iraq is at this point -- I don't think BushJr is a bright man nor do I trust the motives of his people, but it's not beyond possibility that their new plan, whatever it is, might be the least bad option out there. I wouldn't bet on it though. Because America only has one Iraq (currently) to deal with, the public(s) will never really know what's best, whether things go well or not. It's a pity we don't see more leaders like Musharraf over there.
    • This is definitely an area where normal liberal dialogue doesn't make sense to me - while it is true that America has often propped up dictators all over the world, sometimes I think that's the right thing to do - not for strategic struggle against the Communists (as a Communist myself, I'm not particularly on America's side in such struggles, even as I see much in Soviet and Chinese systems that bothers me), but to aid the cause of civilisation. It's sad to me that this stance feels so nuanced, as it's something I wish everyone felt. Meh. Moving on..
    • BushJr won't feel like much of a decision-maker if congress doesn't give him the funds to support military operations. That would be a hard decision to make though because it makes the people who chant "support our troops" more enraged, especially if BushJr sent them over with inadequate equipment and cited the funding as reasoning. This is a time of hardball politics.
  • Yet another empty plea for nonpartisianship. I don't know how much room there is for nonpartisianship in a two-party system, honestly. It seems like it might make more sense in a multiparty system.
    • That said, it's interesting how, given Schwartzenegger's health care example (he may actually be one of the most ineresting Republican politicians we've seen for a long time) and the centrist push in congress, BushJr is forced to introduce moderate plans like health care and conservation in order to avoid letting the Democrats both shape those policies and get credit for them. Some people call Schwartzenegger a RINO (as Lieberman is often called a DINO) - I believe Schwartzenegger is far more politically powerful and influential, because of his position, and allowing him to be elected may be the worst mistake (in domestic politics) the Republicans have made ths decade. A bit like oddball politician/wrestler Ventura and Colin Powell, I have a certain respect for him and wouldn't be sad to see him go far in politics here.
  • I am pleased to see that Tony Blair went with equal rights on the Catholic adoption agency issue rather than siding with the religious folk.

Looking a bit more at the State of the Union, a few points:

  • BushJr still uses the word evil a lot. I must confess that because I have a tough time understanding moral absolutism and because I think "good" and "evil" in the absolute sense fall apart very quickly when one looks at them philosophically (unless one takes some now-rare religious perspectives as foundational for one's view), I have a tough time seeing that as anything but either willful propoganda or stupidity. Calling someone or their acts "evil" is a way of dismissing them by dehumanisation - it goes beyond the point of calling someone a foe (which is reasonable if well-justified) in some areas to giving up all the qualifications and need for justification for that judgement. It is sometimes reasonable to speak of "a good", realising that there are many possible goods and they may conflict, but to speak of "the good" in a way that denies that complexity is not something we should accept in political dialogue. "Good" vs "Evil" feels juvenile, like living in a Star Wars universe.
  • He states that we're in a period of economic growth and rising wages, for a period that exends back to .. roughly.. when he took office the first time. Is that true? I must confess ignorance on this matter.
  • In that same paragraph, he suggests more enterprise is better than more government to keep things working. I wonder how this relates to sarbanes-oxley and other new (generally well-received) ethical business laws that have passed.
  • He spoke out against earmarks - this is an area I agree with him, but this is also an area where he's following the democrats, who (theoretically) made it a priority right after the change in congress.
  • I don't think No Child Left Behind or the other school reforms he speaks of are moving in the right direction - the problem of schools, I think, stems partly from a greater cultural rot, partly from inadequate numbers of teachers, and partly in inadequate pay for teachers. Fixing the first is something that would take years if the nation ever saw it as a problem - the latter require much more funding for education nationwide, with a stipulation that it be used to decrease class size, improve training/quality/pay of teachers, and do things necessary to those ends. A good start on equality, if that's really a goal of his, is to move school funding from the local level to the state or federal level so poor communities don't get the shaft.
    • As an aside, at some point in the past I suggested cutting funding for school sports, art, and music programmes in schools. I now think that would be counterproductive - schools need to be centres of culture - if they are not, they contribute to cultural rot as students fail to identify with society and its institutions. These programmes are vital to the functioning of schools in society, even if their purpose takes a bit more consideration to grasp.
  • The insurance tax changes seem positive. I don't know if his announcing this is strategic in some way (e.g. to head off another plan), but considered on its own it seems good to try to avoid taxing necessities and have taxes focus more on luxuries.
  • On the issue of the border patrol and immigration, I still don't have much of an opinion. If a system for temporary work that's tracable, as he suggests, can be implemented, it seems more wise than having people sneak over - at the very least we'd have statistics on how many people do so. When one state is being leeched by the people from another state who are not part of their system, it seems fair that it take steps to control that.
  • The energy diversification isn't really BushJr's idea - his administration has generally acted to stifle alternative energy research, but at this point his hand is forced by political shifts to try to steal their thunder.
  • It's interesting, in the section on terrorism, how BushJr says that if America is "defeated" (whatever that means), the world is screwed. Iraq is also misrepresented as having a wonderful government, nevermind that it's not really ruling the country, has been in a state of near civil-war since the new state formed, and has shia and sunni militias cleansing each other from various cities. Virtually everything he says are risks "If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure" is already the case - we are already in his "nightmare scenario", we already see the epic religious battle and recruiting for the various factions. The only thing I think he's completely wrong is the completely spurious suggested tie between al Qaeda and Baathists.
  • Someone put together a drinking game for it. Being a lightweight, I would probably be passed out on the floor or in the hospital halfway through the speech if I seriously played it.

On the upcoming 2008 election, it looks like I was right without knowing that Cheney being unelectable would make history - this is the first U.S. Presidential election with no incubents in 80 years. I wonder why Cheney ran with BushJr to begin with..

More thoughts on those likely running:Democrat:

  • Barack Obama - Probably the most interesting candidate - he has an upbringing that places him among the more worldly of politicians we've seen in some time, having lived overseas for a time and being raised mostly in Hawai'i. He's also ethnically mixed and would be the first American president who has significant african heritage. The bills he wrote in state and national legislatures seem sensible, and his efforts on promoting health in other countries are also admirable. He supports Roe v Wade and on some other major issues I like his perspective. I'm wary of his efforts to reach out to evangelists, but I don't know if we can really expect better from American politicians - I'd like to see evangelists marginalised and cut off from politics, but anyone trying for that would probably be unelectable. I think he's a good candidate.
  • Hillary Clinton - She's the other serious candidate at this point. Being Bill Clinton's wife will both help and hurt her. I'm concerned about her corporate ties, although like Obama she also has been involved in humanitarian efforts all over the world. If elected, she'd probably be one of the most experienced politicians for the role (since FDR, as he served four terms) given her strong involvement in her husband's presidency. A few people I know have an incredibly deep loathing for her, generally without being able to tell me why. I think she's a pretty good candidate. I wouldn't be sad to see her running with Obama
  • Dennis Kucinich - I would give my teeth to see him elected, but he's probably unelectable because he's too liberal.
  • John Edwards - I have a lot of trouble respecting the specifics of what he did as a lawyer. He's also not liberal enough for my tastes. He is tech-savvy though and he's camera-friendly - that goes pretty far in politics.
  • Mike Gravel - Batshit insane, like many Alaskan politicians. I would hate to see him elected.
  • Chris Dodd - I respect him - he's an academic, speaks spanish, has ambassadorial experience, and is reasonably liberal. I think he'd make an excellent vice president or cabinet member.
  • Joe Biden - Politically a moderate, he has a lot of experience in washington and, like Edwards, is photogenic. I don't really consider him a liberal though, and I really would like to see one in office. He might make an excellent vp or cabinet member though.
Republican:
  • Giuliani - A liberal Republican with a lot of popular prominence/support, he'd make an interesting candidate.
  • McCain - A moderate Republican with a lot of DC prominence, he's more conservative than I'd like.
  • Tancredo - Fucker. A danger to civilisation. Worse than BushJr.
  • Romney - In deep with big business. I don't know much about where he stands. Camera-friendly.
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