Hopeful naivety

I know that we are squarely within the honeymoon period and past actions should speak petty loudly, but I wanted to write this before all the optimism and bipartisan dissolves. President Bush has really impressed me with the way he has handled himself after the midterm elections. There were no signs of petulance, or anger and the comments he has made have seemed very open, honest, and humble. I think the whole country appreciates the way he has responded.
Bush wasted no time in holding meetings with the new speaker of the house and the new majority leader in the senate and has publicly called for bipartisan cooperation.

My attitude about this is that there is a great opportunity for us to show the country that Republicans and Democrats are equally as patriotic and equally concerned about the future and that we can work together.

Likewise, his stated openness to “new ideas on Iraq” from the incoming democratic majority sounded sincere. And even his candidness about the timing of Rumsfeld’s “resignation” has been refreshing, with him stating that they didn’t want to announce such a thing in the midst of the campaigns for fear that it would not bode well for GOP candidates.

There is still a good chance that his response has been carefully crafted and is part of a large plan to make the Democrats look bad in the coming weeks when there will surely be clashes with a lame duck congress and the President trying to get some things through congress before January. Maybe Bush is really feeling that his administration can compromise. We may find out later this month but I know, I for one, will believe it when I see it. It will be a move outside of Bush’s comfort zone and compromise is not something he has done in the previous six years in office. But maybe his admission that his side got “thumped” has truly brought some humility to the man.

New Democratic talking points

Bill Maher has a new set of talking points for the Democrats. I think they are fairly good. See the abridged versions below:

1) When they say, “Democrats will raise taxes,” you say, “We have to, because some asshole spent all the money in the world cutting Paris Hilton’s taxes and not killing Osama bin Laden.” In just six years the national debt has doubled. You can’t keep spending money you don’t take in, that’s not even elementary economics…”

2) When they say, “The terrorists want the Democrats to win,” you say, “Are you insane? George Bush has been a terrorist’s wet dream, and nonpartisan commissions have confirmed that he’s a recruiter’s dream: theirs, not ours. And, he has exhausted our military without coming away with a win, the worst of both worlds.” Bush inflames radical hatred against America and then runs on offering to protect us from it. It’s like a guy throwing shit on you and then selling you relief from the flies.

3) When they say, “Cut and Run” or “Defeatocrat,” you say, “Bush lost the war — period.” All this nonsense about “the violence is getting worse because they’re trying to influence our election.” No, it’s getting worse because you drew up the postwar plans on the back of a cocktail napkin at Applebee’s.

4) When they say that actual combat veterans like John Kerry are “denigrating” the troops, you say, “You’re completely full of shit.”

Read more at Salon.

Does the public need a GOP tipping point?

The Republicans are falling all over themselves trying to figure out how to deal with their latest scandal.

But reading the front-page headlines and watching the breathless TV coverage five weeks before the election, one could glibly assume that the fallout from the Foley frenzy will be the tipping point that will produce a Democratic sweep in the House. Especially seeing the Republicans in full meltdown, vacillating between fetal-position defeatism and a desperate effort to find a scapegoat.

Really? This is the tipping point? What about all the things the American people now know about Bush and the the Republican congress that allowed all of this? What about…

…the National Intelligence Estimate tells us that the invasion of Iraq has created a greater worldwide terrorist threat, making us less safe.

…and Bob Woodward’s 60 Minutes interview and new book, State of Denial that each outline a “ruinous mix of arrogance and naiveté” within the Bush administration – the direct cause of the Iraq mess.

…and those are just in the last week! If you go over the last six years there are so many more, but is America listening?

…but the key question here is, how much bad news can the Republicans take? Sooner rather than later the weight of the evidence should tilt the scale against Republican control of Congress. For given the way things are going for Hastert and the White House, it can’t take much of a tipping point for the Democrats to get those 15 needed seats.

Here is one strategy they could use: label Foley as a Democrat as Fox “News” did during the O’Reilly Factor.

How long will the American people allow this type of crap from their “leaders”? From their press? Clinton made a strong showing but the Republicans have corruption and deviant behavior down to an art form.

Our losses on and since 9/11. More than we can bear?

After the attacks on September the 11th, 2001 then New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, said that the losses were likely to be “more than we can bear.”

Joan Walsh in a piece at Salon, as part of their 5 years after series writes about this toll and the continuing toll we pay for the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Walsh points out that the 2,873 deaths from that infamous day have now been surpassed by the deaths of American soldiers, with almost 2,700 dying in the unrelated battleground in Iraq. When you add in almost 30,000 U.S. military casualties and a reported 46,307 dead Iraqi civilians, the full toll of this war should start to settle in and Walsh asks if this is more than the American and Iraqi people should have to bear considering the lack of focus this war has had and the erosion of the war’s only success in Afghanistan – with rebels and repression reappearing there – we risk losing any ground we gained there.

She also laments the loss of “national and international unity we enjoyed after the attack”:

the warmth I felt from friends and acquaintances and even strangers those first raw days, a seriousness and purpose I felt more broadly in the following weeks.

And points out many of the things that this administration has done to earn the ire of the American people:

Since that time, though, we’ve seen hubris beyond imagination. We’ve watched an unbridled executive-branch power grab, warrantless wiretaps, the curtailing of privacy rights; a pervasive smog of secrecy descended to obscure our government. Outrage about torture, rendition and secret prisons here and abroad is dismissed with a flippant “We don’t torture” from the president. And all of it has been shellacked with an ugly culture of bullying in which dissent equals treason, shamelessly, five years after the attack. Last week it was Donald Rumsfeld comparing war critics to people who appeased Hitler; this week we had Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying they’re the sort who would have ended the Civil War early and let the South keep its slaves. Their intimidation is meant to say that the very freedoms worth fighting for — the right to dissent, the right to question our government — might have to be abridged while we fight. Politically, that truly is more than we can bear.

The article loses some steam toward the end and I wish it would have stuck closer to its theme, its mantra, is the toll more than we can or should bear? Perhaps some additional focus could also be placed on what we have gained, such as more enemies.

A growing number of analysts, many of them former top government counterterrorism officials, say the notion of a “war” on terrorism is the wrong strategy.

In relying overwhelmingly on bombs and bullets, they say, the United States has alienated much of the Muslim world, driving away even moderates who might be open to Western ideas. The West has largely failed to offer a positive vision or deal with the root causes of Islamic extremism.

Apples, angles & architecture

Semi-weekly link dump

Racism, Apple, the Family Guy, oh my!

Best news of this new young year? Family Guy is being released on DVD.

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Though unrelated (I hope) it would seem that both Apple and racism are making a comeback. Recently I have seen many of my very tech-savvy friends switch from PC’s to Macs. Yes the computer for everyone (even your mom) seems to have finally done something right with its operating system. OS X and its underlying Unix are making believers out of many computer-literate people, threatening to make Apple computers the favorites of each extreme of the computer buying world. Is there an Apple computer in my future then? Well no. They still cannot compete as a game platform.

With the fall of political correctness sometime in the late 90’s and subsequent “frankness” that is left in its wake, it seems that veiled and not so veiled racist sentiments can be found just about everywhere these days. It seems you don’t have to be sensitive to people’s feelings anymore – instead people should “get a thicker skin” and stop whining. Close-circuit to anyone speaking around me: I will call you on your thoughtless and cruel remarks – you have been warned.

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Could it be that there are things that are much worse than having a stupid president? This simply disturbs me.

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Here is a link my homebuilding photo gallery – there may not be any new photos posted today, but who are we kidding, you haven’t seen them all.