Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hastert's latest shows why he needs to go.

Ever hear of Buck Weaver? Probably not, unless you are either a baseball history buff or interested in the history of legal issues surrounding sports.

Buck Weaver played third base for the Chicago White Sox from 1912-1920. He was a member of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team that, though heavily favored lost the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, five games to three. After that season baseball's most infamous moment, the 'Black Sox scandal' broke. Eight of Weaver's teammates including Joe Jackson (who would otherwise be in the Hall of Fame today) and Ed Cicotte (who might otherwise, had he continued his pitching career, have made it to the Hall of Fame) were revealed to have taken bribes from gamblers in exchange for making key mistakes, serving up fat pitches, or striking out at key times during the world series.

Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis took quick action. He suspended nine players for life (and according to the Hall of Fame committee, they remain suspended today, even though they have passed beyond this life.) NINE? There were, of course only EIGHT 'Black Sox' (subject of the recent movie, 'Eight men out.'

Well, the ninth man was Buck Weaver. He did not take a dollar from anyone to throw the series, nor did he play anything other than his best. So why was he suspended along with the other eight? Simple. Because Buck Weaver knew about the crime and did not tell anyone about it. Had he done so, it would have been uncovered before the series, whatever action was appropriate then would have been taken, and the integrity of the game would have been preserved. So in the end, Buck Weaver was every bit as guilty and culpable as the eight men who took the bribes. This is also why the Service Academies and some other high quality educational institutions enforce anti-cheating policies in which anyone who learns about a fellow student cheating and fails to report it is dealt with in exactly the same manner as the cheater is.

Yesterday, as we all know, Florida Congressman Mark Foley resigned from Congress after it was disclosed that he sent sexually suggestive emails to a fifteen year old page for another Congressman, Rodney Alexander of Louisiana.

All of which makes two of today's stories together sound like a bizarre and sick irony. The first states that Speaker Denny Hastert knew of these emails months ago and did nothing, apparently believing that it was not a serious problem.

"Rodney Alexander brought to my attention the existence of e-mails between Mark Foley and a former page of Mr. Alexander's," Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a written statement Saturday.

"Despite the fact that I had not seen the e-mails in question, and Mr. Alexander told me that the parents didn't want the matter pursued, I told the speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me," Reynolds said.

Hastert said he does not remember talking to Reynolds about the Foley e-mails, but did not dispute Reynolds' account.

"While the speaker does not explicitly recall this conversation, he has no reason to dispute Congressman Reynolds' recollection that he reported to him on the problem and its resolution," Hastert's aides said in a preliminary report on the matter issued Saturday.

The report includes a lengthy timeline detailing when they first learned of the worrisome e-mail in the fall of 2005, after a staffer for Alexander told Hastert's office the family wanted Foley to stop contacting their son. Alexander's staffer did not share the contents of the e-mail, saying it was not sexual but "over-friendly," the report says.

And there was absolutely no indication that between that time and Foley's surprise resignation on Friday, that Speaker Hastert did anything about the emails or Congressman Foley at all, even not having a problem with his remaining co-chair of the caucus on missing or exploited children.

So then today we nearly simultaneously see the following story out: House leaders call for Foley investigation.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top three Republicans in the House assailed Rep. Mark Foley Saturday over his e-mails to a teenage male page and said his resignation was not enough.

Calling the incident "an obscene breach of trust," the congressmen released a statement saying, "[Foley's] immediate resignation must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system."

"The improper communications between Congressman Mark Foley and former House congressional pages is unacceptable and abhorrent. It is an obscene breach of trust," read the statement issued by Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

I fear for the speaker's health. Within a few hours he has gone from not thinking this was a serious problem to calling it 'an obscene breach of trust' and demanding a criminal probe. With a flip-flop that fast, it would be like throwing a car that is going sixty miles an hour into reverse gear. Aside from risking the destruction of his vehicle (in this case any credibility the House Republican leadership has left post-DeLay), Hastert risks a severe case of whiplash.

What changed in the intervening hours? Not really a whole lot, except for one thing-- the emails became public knowlege, and Foley's formerly safe district was added to the long list of Republican held districts that could elect a Democrat (which threatens Hastert's seat of power). So once the whole thing was out in the open, in contrast to his ignoring it when he was one of the very few people who had both the knowlege and the power to do something about it, Hastert is trying to reposition himself as the chief inquisitor. While I agree with his new position and hope that a criminal probe does take place (if you've read this blog for very long you well know that I have strong opinions about child abuse), for Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House, the man who knew about the Foley emails last year but swept them under the rug, to now claim to take the lead on this is ludicrous.

Hastert, who has mainly used his position as speaker to become the 'prince of pork' (since about 1/3 of new Federal spending for the state of Illinois ends up in his district, about five percent population-wise of the state) has presided over the house since Newt Gingrich resigned after the Clinton impeachment fiasco cost Republicans seats in 1998, and Gingrich's handpicked successor, Bob Livingston of Louisiana, stepped out because of another sex scandal. During his tenure, Hastert has presided over a corrupt Republican caucus, that was led by Tom DeLay (who as Majority Leader did Hastert's bidding). Just in the past year we've seen one member of his Republican caucus go to prison for bribery, another (DeLay) resign after being indicted for alleged crimes directly related to why Hastert even has a majority), another plead guilty just the other day on a corruption charge, and many others under investigation as the Abramoff probe widens. Virtually the entire caucus took questionable money raised by DeLay. Hastert did nothing. Only a fool would suggest that Hastert didn't know a great deal about DeLay's dealings.

But what this latest episode involving Mark Foley does show is that Speaker Hastert is morally bankrupt, a man with no backbone or sense of right and wrong, who is only looking out for his 'majority' (read 'his job') and who will do anything to win an election.

All I have to say is this: Republicans running in close races in some districts in 'red' states have tried to scare people by saying that if Democrats take over Congress, "San Francisco Liberal Nancy Pelosi" will become speaker. Well, if anyone is worried about that (and I know that some conservatives are, though I think that Pelosi has largely been inaccurately portrayed by the right), just consider what else happens if Republicans lose control of Congress. Denny Hastert won't be speaker anymore. And that day has been overdue for a long, long time.

Congressman Foley resigns over emails.

Today, Florida Congressman Mark Foley resigned over a series of sexually suggestive emails to a fifteen year old page.

What is even more apalling about this story is that Foley is the co-chair of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. Foley had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.

And therein lies the rub.

I consider Foley's resignation to have been entirely appropriate. But I don't consider that Bill Clinton should have been impeached. Why is this? Is it because I'm a Democrat?

No, it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with a number. The page was 15. Monica Lewinsky was 22.

15 < 18. 22 > 18.

It's that simple. I may not agree with what consenting adults do with each other, but in the end it really isn't our business. But when a child is exploited, it become everybody's business.

What this does do, aside from opening up a seat he should have hung unto easily just weeks ahead of the election, is reinforce the stereotype that all Congressmen are corrupt, crooks or otherwise sleazy. And I don't even think it is true-- I believe that many are but I'd still like to believe that at least a majority are still good people. But then they don't make headlines so we learn a lot more about the bad ones.

Wisconsin school shooting. What should we do?

Today, there was yet another school shooting, this time in Wisconsin. A fifteen year old male special ed student, who had received a disciplinary note just a couple of days ago, shot the principal of his high school in the head, chest and leg. After several hours of surgery, it is being reported that the principal has died. This continues a deadly trend that seems to happen every year, but which never happened when I grew up.

Why is this?

It is tempting for some to blame the availability of guns, but that is exactly wrong. Guns were more available when I was a kid than they are now, what with background checks, limits on who can buy them and on sellers. Guns have always been readily available for those who want them, whether for good or evil, but the fact is that when I was a kid (mostly in the 1970's) no one thought about shooting anyone at school. In fact, when I was in ROTC in high school we had marksmanship and training with guns (and that isn't where I first learned to handle one either-- my father started taking me out shooting when I was seven.) But no one thought about shooting people at a school.

One could argue that media coverage of school shootings plays into why there are now more of them. In fact, just a few days before today's shooting, a deranged man in Colorado barged into a school and took six female hostages, molested all of them, and then killed one of them and himself. Did news coverage of that event lead today's shooter to consider a gun as a way to 'get back' at the principal for the disciplinary note? Perhaps, but not enough is known and the two cases are different other than the fact that they both involve guns in schools.

On the more general question of whether news coverage of school shootings has at least put the idea into the heads of disturbed kids who may then act on it, that does seem a rational explanation, but we have to be very careful then about not jumping to the simplistic conclusion that if the news would no longer cover these events then they wouldn't happen anymore.

For one thing, asking the media not to cover anything is risky. There are some cases in which information is left out of the news-- for example the rape shield exemption in which the victim of an alleged rape is not named, along with the reluctance of most news outlets to name minors accused of a crime (which may not apply in this case because the crime is murder), or if the information detrimental to national security (I've myself chosen not to discuss a couple of items I either know or have considered as possible threats on this blog because of security concerns, even though I would put the likelihood of terrorists actually reading Deep Thought as very low.) However, when we start asking the media to actually not even report that something has happened, then we enter a slippery slope towards censorship. Far better to try and figure out how to stop 'copycat crimes,' even when they are as serious as this, than that we move in any way towards a world in which news is not reported. That said, we could consider how important this news is.

A school shooting is certainly huge news in the community where it occurs and the people who live there deserve to know it, as do residents of surrounding communities which might be involved. But at a larger, national level is it really worth breaking into coverage of other TV programs for, as happened tonight? This is certainly a horrible thing for the citizens of a rural region in Wisconsin, but then so too is a fatal traffic accident or any other murder, but living in Arizona I don't hear about every traffic fatality nor every murder that occurs in the state of Wisconsin. And there is no reason why I should. If the scale of the murder is very large or if there are other issues (i.e. Columbine) then a school shooting rampage certainly does require a national discussion, but unless this is the case maybe the media does oversensationalize these particular crimes. But if they want to quit reporting them nationally, that is a decision that the media should make by themselves and not because Congress or anyone else tells them what to report on.

It is also unfair to just blame the media. There are a multitude of reasons why these crimes occur. And to start with, most kids by the time they are in high school know that as a historical fact there have been school shootings (they exist) but they themselves don't feel compelled to go get a gun and start firing. So the better question to ask is what makes the kids who do that different? What predictors can be used.

And we have several. In almost every case the shooter has been described as a 'loner,' and often has been the victim of bullying while in school. Schools as a result have become much more aggressive in combatting bullying than they used to, and that is a good thing. It is especially a good thing for the bullies, who often it turns out have an unstable home life and with the renewed emphasis it is in some cases allowing those families to be identified and get the help they need or in rare cases the kids to be removed from the home if it is unsuitable for raising children.

We have also seen that in a number of cases (as was the case here) the shooter has gotten into trouble at school. Perhaps conseling may be needed to help kids who get into trouble at school move forward with addressing their problems instead of just shuffling them off into detention or suspension and welcoming them back when it is over.

Many school shooters have written online or in emails to friends exactly what they are thinking. We need to be better adept at finding it on the web before it becomes reality.

There are many other reasons which are sometimes cited, though I cannot say which if any of them are valid-- some of them include violent video/computer games, violence on TV and the movies, drugs, abusive parents, difficulty with schoolwork, and the all-too-familiar 'That couldn't be MY kid, it's somebody else's' type parent.

We don't fully know yet how to prevent school shootings but certainly any ideas are welcome.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Insurgency was anticipated. Rumsfeld just doesn't admit it.

Don Rumsfeld claims that no one anticipated the strength of the insurgency in Iraq.

"Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is," Rumsfeld told CNN for the documentary, "CNN Presents Rumsfeld -- Man of War," which debuts Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Well, he could be right, if he said that 'Don Rumsfeld didn't anticipate the strength of the insurgency.' For that matter, neither did George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz or the rest of the neocon idiots that planned this war.

But it is wrong to say that no one anticipated it.

Gen. Eric Shinseki anticipated it. He calculated before the war that the U.S. would need 400,000 troops after the fall of Baghdad in order to prevent an insurgency from taking root. This directly contradicted the 'Rumsfeld doctrine' of supposedly being able to do this lightly (read cheaply-- this is what happens when you have fiscal conservatives running a war.) Rumsfeld remained fixed on his initial estimate of 100,000 troops and-- in a clear signal to the rest of the military leadership-- forced Gen. Shinseki to retire. Gen. Casey, who knew better than to openly confront the boss, sweet talked him up to 150,000 but that was still a woefully inadequate number.

And remember all that talk from Bush and Rumsfeld about not taking decisions on the ground away from the generals, and about how 'if they ask for more forces on the ground then we will give it to them?'

Well, also from the linked article:

One of those is the man who led the 1st Infantry Division in northwest Iraq in 2004. Former U.S. Army Maj. Gen John Batiste said he asked for more troops and was turned down.

"We're in a real fix right now [in Iraq]," Batiste told CNN. "We're there because Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ignored sound military advice, dismissed it all, went with his plan and his plan alone."

By 2004 the insurgency was in full swing and we had heard that promise of letting the generals make the call multiple times on TV. It was all a big fat lie, but they said it anyway because they were trying to win an election.

It's bad enough that we are led by incompetents. But it is worse that their incompetence is mixed with an unwillingness to let the military leaders do their jobs.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Did Bill Montgomery hire illegal immigrants to make a commerical about illegal immigration?

Attorney General Terry Goddard has filed a complaint against Republican challenger Bill Montgomery, alleging that Montgomery hired illegal aliens in a campaign commercial (which has not been aired yet) in which the men were portraying illegal aliens being arrested, and further did so using clean elections funds allocated for the primary, and not the general election.

While I actually suspect that Montgomery may technically be right on the second charge (the commercial was apparently filmed and paid for on September 12, the date of the primary, before the polls closed) he clearly is abusing the intent of the law.

On the more serious charge, Montgomery only says this:

Montgomery said he does not know the immigration status of the men filmed for the commercial, who were hired by a company contracted to produce the spot.

OK. This is a man who wants to become the chief law enforcement officer for the state, and he can't even guarantee that his own campaign is in compliance with the law.

It does seem that someone knows about the immigration status of the men:

A Gilbert town employee, Matt LaMotte, watched as the commercial was filmed Sept. 12 at Freestone Park. He filed a town incident report documenting what he saw.

LaMotte's report was included in the Clean Elections complaint. He wrote: "The camera operator informed me that the commercial is about illegal immigration, the groups of Hispanic men are illegal immigrants, and they were being paid for their services."

In response to that charge, Montgomery questioned whether the camera operator knows the immigration status of the men. So, he knows what information the camera operator has access to, but he does not know whether his campaign was hiring undocumented workers.

Let's put the best face on this for Mr. Montgomery and assume that he really doesn't know this. Don't you think that since this story first broke on Saturday he'd have taken the time to find out, so that he could prove that they were not, if they're not, or at least issue an apology if they are? Is this the kind of lack of a real investigation that Bill Montgomery will conduct if he becomes Attorney General and someone brings him a complaint that it is not convenient for him to investigate? Terry Goddard took some real risks as Attorney General and made some enemies in order to crack down on everything from consumer fraud to polygamy involving teen brides. But Bill Montgomery can't even investigate his own campaign.

What other conclusion is there? That maybe he does know the truth, and that it is that he did indeed hire indocumented workers, and now he wants to make the whole story go away so he's saying nothing about it? Maybe, in which case we definitely don't need him as Attorney General.

Bill Clinton's wrath.

Lost in all of the discussion of former President Clinton's blow-up on FOX News this weekend was the fact that what he said is essentially correct, and in fact mirrors some of what I have written in the past. And in some cases, there is much more that Bill Clinton could have said.

A good example is the fact that conservatives were always happy to add lack of a response to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole to the list of what Clinton supposedly didn't do anything about.

Yesterday Clinton said that the reason he didn't order military operations after the Cole bombing was because the intelligence agencies involved had not yet 'certified' that it was done by al-Qaeda (certainly a valid concern-- we know that the Iranians had carried out the Khobar towers bombing, and there are plenty of other organizations and governments in the world who might wish us ill; if the goal is to make a point that such an action brings about a response, then it has to be made vs. the right target.) In fact, he could have said a lot more. Recall that the Cole bombing was carried out in October of 2000. If he had ordered an immediate response, do you think the right would have supported him? Of course not. Instead, they would have accused him of manipulating the news in order to help Al Gore win the November election (which, given the closeness of that election and the historic rallying around the current administration when they take such military action, very probably would have happened.) And if he waited until after the election? Well, then they would have said it was to 'distract attention' away from their attempt, ultimately successful, to stop the recount of disputed ballots in Florida. By the time that Gore conceded the election on December 13, 2000, there was only a month left in the Clinton administration and leaving what to do about the Cole up to the Bush administration made a lot of sense. But regardless of all of that, if you want to say that Bill Clinton did nothing about the Cole attack during his final three months in office, you may say that, but then answer why the Bush administration did nothing about it in the following eight months. That is a question that Bill Clinton asked last night, and frankly no one (except for myself, who has posted it on a number of blogs) has asked since then.

Then there is the matter of the bombing of the bin Laden camps on August 18, 1998. The date, eleven days after the African embassy bombings, was carefully selected because on that date there was a meeting of senior al-Qaeda leadership being held. Even though it occurred less than two weeks after a series of bombings that killed hundreds of people at our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the right wing did not support Bill Clinton on that. As I wrote last year, Republicans did not support him but complained that the attacks took a headline away from the 'all-important Monica scandal.' As it happened on that very day, Ms. Lewinsky was giving a deposition in a courtroom in New York City. Now, let's be clear here-- the Lewinsky scandal had no importance at all in any matter of policy at all, except as a partisan embarrassment to the President. But apparently an attempt-- though unfortunately unsuccessful-- to get bin Laden was the wrong thing for Bill Clinton to do that day, because it interfered with the news cycle and nothing was as important as finding out any new lurid details that might be revealed from Ms. Lewinsky's depostion (or in fact, a chance to simply splash the same old details across the front page if there were no new ones.) Clinton made this point too, though he was handicapped by the fact that he could not say, 'Monica,' so he said, 'wag the dog.' But anyone who was watching the news in 1998 knows that that means.

I've had my disagreements with Bill Clinton in the past. But it was refreshing to hear him confront some of the more viscious lies that have been told about him directly.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Agreement leaves Bush administration still remaining as Judge, Jury and Executioner.

In looking over the 'compromise' between the Bush administration and a group of GOP Senators led by John McCain, I can see that many of our worst fears have been realized.

The Senators and the President claim that the agreement brings us 'into compliance with the Geneva Conventions (you know, that document that Zap Albert once labelled as 'quaint' before being appointed Attorney General.') It does list a number of specfic types of treatment that might be construed as 'torture.' Of course history teaches us that there is no limit to what people can think of in terms of how to inflict pain on the human body.

Now, what can and can't be done is however not the kernel of why I find this agreement lacking. The reason is because it continues to leave the same people (in this case the Bush administration and then whoever follows it-- which John McCain hopes will be a McCain administration-- in the roles of judge, jury and executioner.)

The agreement leaves in place the right of the administration to set the rules in terms of what can be done in the way of renditions and other actions taken (judge), to determine exactly who is a 'terror suspect' without actually having to try them or having judicial review (jury) and of course to actually carry out whatever is being done (executioner).

And we've already seen the harm that this has caused. To begin with, a number of claims that were used to justify the Iraq war were based on, as I blogged last December, a coerced lie that was told by a guy trying to talk his way out of a torture chamber in Egypt. Now, given that the Bush administration was deadset on the Iraq war anyway, I doubt if the war would have been avoided if this guy hand't been snatched off an Italian street and handed over to Egyptian interrogators who got him to say what we wanted him to say, but it is certainly true that it points up one of the many pitfalls that can come out of this kind of treatment of prisoners.

Then there is the matter of Khalid al-Masri. The German citizen of Lebanese descent was grabbed by mistake and underwent 'rendition' to Afghanistan (a country where he had never been within thousands of miles from), where he was beaten and held without any legal representation for several months while his family in Germany had no clue on his disappearance, even for a few weeks after the CIA figured out they had made a mistake. Even after Condi Rice intervened and demanded that he be let out, it took several more weeks before it happened (one has to wonder what would have happened had the Secretary of State not gotten involved personally-- the phrase 'burying mistakes' springs to mind.) Al-Masri sued the U.S. Government. He made the mistake of suing in a Federal Court in Virgnia. In May, judge T.S. Ellis, dismissed the case-- not because it wasn't valid, but because it involved 'national security.'

Mr el-Masri's "private interests must give way to the national interest in preserving state secrets".

If we had some level of oversight outside of the executive branch of the administration, this might be excusable. But it is not. And neither is the agreement that has been reached. There are those who might say that people who oppose denying due process to terror suspects are 'coddling terrorists.' But then they forget what the purpose of due process is. It is not there to protect the guilty. It is there to protect the falsely accused. Without it, anyone could be accused of terrorism and held without trial (including American citizens-- don't forget the games they played with the Padilla case) for as long as they want to, and in whatever conditions they choose.

One other matter-- Democrats failed here. Democrats have always stood up for individual rights. And should have done so here. By remaining silent on the issue and letting John McCain take the lead instead, Democrats in effect have ceded the issue. And we well know that everything that John McCain does is colored by his own personal ambitions.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ad full of errors, and also full of it.

The National Black Republican Association is running an ad in Maryland (where black Republican Michael Steele is running for the U.S. Senate against Representative Ben Cardin.) The ad has a lot of Democrats riled, and it is because of a number of factual inaccuracies, although it does point out a few things which are true but not relevant to today's situation.

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (AP) -- A national black Republican group is running a radio advertisement accusing Democrats of starting the Ku Klux Klan and saying the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, a claim challenged by civil-rights researchers.

Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the black Republican nominee for Maryland's open Senate seat, disavowed the ad Thursday as "insulting to Marylanders." He said his campaign asked the Washington-based National Black Republican Association to stop running it....

The spot begins with one woman telling another, "Dr. King was a real man. You know he was a Republican."

Steve Klein, a senior researcher with the Atlanta-based King Center, said Thursday that King never endorsed candidates from either party.
"I think it's highly inaccurate to say he was a Republican because there's really no evidence," Klein said.

A King biographer, Taylor Branch, also said Thursday that King was nonpartisan.

In the ad, the woman goes on to say, "Democrats passed those black codes and Jim Crow laws. Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan." Her companion replies, "The Klan? White hoods and sheets?"

The KKK, never a political party, was a racist group of white men that started in the South after the Civil War, when Republicans were almost unheard of in former Confederate states. The mainstream Democratic Party never endorsed the Klan nor claimed to have founded it.

The first woman also says, "Democrats fought all civil rights legislation from the 1860s to the 1960s. Democrats released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks."

First, let me address the factual errors here. Dr. King, who had to garner political support from whatever quarters he could get it, was in fact carefully nonpartisan. His whole philosophy of building a coalition to effect change through peaceful methods depended on not getting caught up in partisan political battles (which were as prevalent then as they are now) that ultimately had nothing to do with the goal for which he was striving.

That said, it is worth noting that nearly all of those who fought in the civil rights movement with him, have in fact become Democrats. In fact, it is interesting to note that the ad's authors waited until the death of the one person who could very clearly and authoritatively have refuted this claim, Coretta Scott King, before they came forward with it. If it was true, then why would no one have said so when Mrs. King was alive? Simple, because it is not true and she would have called them on it. In fact, if accuracy were their goal they could have named Jackie Robinson (also a civil rights icon) as having been a Republican and they would have been factually correct.

As far as the KKK, it was started by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest (who was at the time officially banned from even participating in the American political process as were dozens of other high profile former Confederates).

Now I will say that the charge that Democrats fought against civil rights legislation from the 1860's to the 1960's is correct. And frankly, there have been times in our history when the Republican party was the more progressive party, most notably during Reconstruction. If I'd lived then I believe I would have been a Republican. However, corrupt barons of industry took over the Republican party after that (beginning during the Grant administration and pretty much had finished taking control by the time James A. Garfield was elected in 1880) and between 1880 and 1950, there was virtually no civil rights legislation at all, for anyone to either favor or oppose.

Then, in the 1950's an era of civil rights legislation began, and culminated (though not concluded) with the Voting Rights act of 1964. And yes, southern Democrats did oppose all of it.

But it got passed anyway. And what did the Southern Democrats do? Simple, they became Republicans. Starting with the Goldwater sweep of the deep south in 1964, and then continuing with Nixon's 'southern strategy' and on up to this day, people who had been voting Democrat for generations simply switched to the Republican party.

And Lyndon Johnson (who I still consider one of our worst Presidents for Vietnam) did one right thing, and he knew the price. He signed that voting rights act and when he did he said that the South would go Republican for the next thirty years. Other than the fact that he underestimated the time frame, he was right. And the most obdurate segregationists like Strom Thurmond? Many of them simply became Republicans right on the spot (though Thurmond had accepted integration by the end of his life, unlike his Senate colleague Jesse Helms who continued to play the race card as long as he was running for and serving in the Senate).

That is all history though. What about today's Democrats and today's Republicans? Very simple. Democrats recognize that the lingering effects of 400 years of slavery and 100 of institutional racism are still with us. Black people in general (not every one of them, but in general) earn less, have less opportunity and live in worse neighborhoods and their kids go to worse schools than most other Americans. Republicans simply refuse to even acknowlege that, let alone propose to do anything about it. Theirs is the philosophy of 'personal responsibility' run amok, suggesting that because it is technically possible that any individual could in theory become a billionaire if they work hard and have a little bit of luck, therefore it is OK to ignore the fact that things are unequal and they are unequal because of the lingering effects of the past.

Democrats have not delivered on much of what is needed for the African-American community either; and of course the promises made by our ancestors (forty acres and a mule) have never been honored, but at least Democrats have tried to deliver. Democrats favor spending the money that is needed to improve communities where a lot of poor people (who are disproportionately black) live, and favor affirmative action and other programs designed to help black people move up in the world.

From the article:

The ad asserts that "Democrats want to keep us poor while voting only Democrat".

Hmmmm.... It is true that black people, after making great economic strides upwards during the 1960's through the 1980's, have as a group largely stagnated and more of them are slipping back into poverty. Just one problem with the line of reasoning that this ad puts forward: Since blacks have quit moving upward and begun stagnating, who has been in control of government? In other words, even if Democrats did have such an agenda, we couldn't pass it because almost no Democratic written legislation ever gets out of this Congress. And if voters in Maryland elect Michael Steele, he will support the Senate GOP leadership, who will then continue to put forward the same kind of budgets and legislation that we have seen for the past decade. So if blacks are staying poor with the present leadership that we have, the answer is to change direction.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thailand coup

Right now, there isn't much information available on the coup today in Thailand. What is known is that the military took control of the country and suspended the Constitution while imposing of martial law, citing problems with corruption in the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and "deep divisions" within the country caused by his autocratic style of rule. The military promised to restore democracy 'soon' but did not say when that would be. The Prime Minister was in New York at the time at a meeting of the U.N. general assembly and got on a plane for Bangkok. If the military is as in control as they claim then presumably he will be detained upon landing.

I feel troubled by all of this. I'm no fan of corruption, and there is no question that despite being elected, the Prime Minister has caused some very deep divisions within the country. However, none of this is a reason for a coup. Corruption is a part of having a government, and the answer is to create an effective and truly independent judiciary, and for the people to exercise their Constitutional duty and vote out the corrupt government and replace it with another. Once it is established that corruption is grounds to be voted out of office, future governments will then have an incentive to avoid it. Not coincidentally, elections are scheduled in Thailand for November, which makes the coup even more troubling-- regardless of what people may feel about the government, they would have the chance to vote it out within a few weeks anyway.

As to the fact that Prime Minister Thaksin has been divisive, again that is not grounds for a coup. Here in the United States, President Bush has been very divisive, and I for one am strongly opposed to him, but neither I nor nearly all of us who oppose him would support a coup or any other means of removing him that is not proscribed by the Constitution. I expect him to leave office on January 20, 2009 as scheduled, and with any luck at all we will have an opportunity in seven weeks from today to ensure that his last two years are spent in a relatively harmless manner. The only Constitutional means of removing a President from office before his term is impeachment. Coups and other decisions undertaken by a few people who are not elected are bad choices whenever they are made.

Again, the information from Thailand is very sketchy right now but I am certain that I don't support this coup.

Monday, September 18, 2006

CD-1 race

On one of my recent posts, there was a comment that basically boiled down to how I see the current CD-1 race between Rick Renzi (R-VA) and Ellen Simon for the right to represent us here.

In a nutshell, I believe that Simon's views are more reflective of how I feel than Renzi's are, so I am supporting her.

I also believe that Renzi will fight dirty (as he always has) so that we will be treated to primarily two things from him: He will point to Simon's past as an ACLU lawyer and her husband's child support issues.

On the first count, I consider that a plus. I don't know when it became a negative to be associated with an organization that champions individual rights. I've posted in favor of individual freedoms even for those I may not agree with here (where I posted the infamous Mohammed cartoons and generated a record 160 comments) as well as here (defending a Holocaust denier's right to publish his filth) and also here (in a post on the right of anti-Castro Cubans to protest at a baseball game involving the Cuban team), in addition to here (asking for asylum for Abdul Rahman so he could practice Christianity in a country where he is free to do so.) These are all positions in which I am in agreement with people from the ACLU. There are times when I have disagreed with them (for example, trying to get the words, 'under God' taken out of the pledge of allegiance) but I've nonetheless always admired the ACLU and let's face it-- in the face of ever more expansive state and institutional control, someone needs to be out there fighting for individual freedom and liberty, and if the ACLU wasn't, then who would take their place?

The other issue that Renzi will run on doesn't involve Simon at all, but her husband's past problems with child support. How exactly does that make her culpable? That is between him and his ex-wife (and keep in mind that an ex-spouse will say anything.) I do believe that if he is in fact a deadbeat then he should be made to pay, but she has nothing to do with that. I guess it proves that if you want to run against Rick Renzi, you better not be related to anybody (remember how he went after Paul Babbitt for things his relatives had done, which Paul Babbitt himself had nothing to do with.)

And Rick Renzi still has a ton of cash, and has locked up a lot of the reservation (normally the Democratic base of the district) before Simon had even won her primary. I think this is a race that Simon could win, but it will be an uphill climb.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The world is still waiting.

A few weeks ago, in July, I wrote a post entitled, The price of thumbing your nose at the world-- they won't be there when you need them.

The post itself was written in the context of the Bush administration realizing that they had very little to bargain with in finding a resolution to the then-ongoing Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. It focused on how the Bush administration's cavalier attitude towards other countries and world opinion had caught up with them, as they had virtually no international support left.

And it is in the news again this week as the administration seeks-- and has a harder time finding-- help in situations such as Iran.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- When President Bush addresses world leaders at the United Nations this week, he will have fewer options and lower expectations on almost every major foreign policy front than a year ago.

The United States is relying more readily on international institutions and alliances for help in Iran, Lebanon, North Korea, Sudan and elsewhere. Yet, according to analysts, the Bush administration has less room to maneuver.

Bush and his foreign policy advisers have tried with some success to dispel the caricature of Bush abroad as a Texas cowboy riding alone and herding the U.S. into an unpopular war in Iraq.

But the war, now in its fourth year, devours resources and energy for other global objectives and feeds mistrust about U.S. intentions, experts say.

"I'm not sure they have changed their minds about to what extent to proceed unilaterally and how much to use military force so much as they have run out of options," said Richard Stoll, a political science professor at Rice University who studies foreign policy and national security.

What this proves is that a rigid and doctrinaire President can expect less support internationally when the chips are down.

They've seen how Bush operates. And don't expect them to do any favors.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rick Renzi and ethics-- an oxymoron when mentioned in the same line.

Hat tip to Arizona Congress Watch.

I've talked quite a bit about my ethically challenged Congresscritter, 'Richmond Rickey,' Rick Renzi.

It was Renzi who, while living in Virgina (where he had resided for many years) heard that there would be a northern Arizona rural congressional district, and despite not having lived in the area at all except for the time when he attended NAU as an undergrad in the early 1980's, decided that he should be the next Congressman. So Renzi bought a house in Kingman. Then when it was announced that Mohave county would not be in the new district, the residence in Kingman went on the market the next day and he bought another house, in the district. Of course his 'home' is much more like a campaign headquarters, as Renzi continues to reside with his wife and children in the same Burke, Virginia home as he has lived for the past decade.

Then, Renzi won both the primary and the general election by pouring in a ton of money-- over $4 million in 2002. Not long after that, the Federal Elections Commission investigated Renzi and concluded that the money was raised and spent illegally. His 2002 opponent, George Cordova, also filed a lawsuit against Renzi because of campaign ads that charged that Cordova had embezzled funds from a company he owned and wired them to his uncle in Mexico. Of course if that were true, then Cordova would have committed several felonies and would be in prison. It was not true at all (but what a neat trick to play the race card and let people know that Cordova had an uncle in Mexico), and Renzi settled the suit out of court for an undisclosed sum of money (not that finding money has ever been a problem for Rick.) All of this landed Renzi on the list of the thirteen most corrupt Congressmen, where he joins such luminaries as Duke Cunningham, William Jefferson and Bob Ney.

Renzi has also, while in his official position, helped steer hundreds of millions in federal contracts to the business of his father, a defense contractor. This is not illegal, but generally congressmen step aside when such conflicts come up and let other congressmen handle the situation. But not Renzi, he has no bones about making sure that his family is handed the big dollars.

So today, a new Renzi scandal broke. Harper's released an article entitled, The Patty Roe story: the interesting ethics of Congressman Rick Renzi.

It is about a woman named Patty Roe who (in apparent violation of Congressional rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest) works for Rick Renzi in his office while simultaneously doing fundraising for the Congressman (and a few of his colleagues). According to the article, she will make $60,000 on top of her office salary.

The funniest part of it is where a Renzi spokesman says,

“Whatever fundraising she does, is on her time.”

Yeah, Right. Just what I would do with my spare time, raise money for my boss. But then again, Rick Renzi has made a habit of getting away with outrageous violations of ethics, so by now it's just par for the course.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Michigan HPV vaccine legislation.

A bipartisan, mostly female group of Michigan legislators is proposing that the HPV vaccine be mandated, now that it has been found that this vaccine, if given to young girls prior to the onset of sexual activity, will innure them against the cause of 70% of cervical cancers.

According to the plan, the vaccinations would be paid for, in most cases by patients' health insurance (as it is presently) and if the insurance chose not to cover it or if the patient was uninsured by the federal government's Vaccines for Children program.

Now, granted I've always been a little leery about anything that is actually mandated by government, but I'm scratching my head over why anyone would object to the intent of this bill.

Cervical cancer, which develops decades after exposure to the human papillomavirus kills thousands of women each year in America.

If the objection is based on cost, compare what the shots cost (about $360 right now, though that may go down if they are mass produced) to the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that cancer can cost. And yes, in most cases either by medicare, medicaid or higher health insurance premiums, you are paying for the cost of these cancers.

If the objection is based on some outmoded conservative health care ideal that people should 'pay as they go,' I would point out that vaccinations against communicable diseases have always been considered differently even by conservatives in government-- after all, if a large number of people in a community are not vaccinated then they ultimately put other people, and the health of the community as a whole, at risk.

If the objection is based on the presumption that the vaccine will encourage young girls to have sex, then it is ridiculous from the outset. Not more than a few months ago, no one even knew that link between HPV and cervical cancer even existed. So the vaccine will at best only return girls to the point they were at before it was known. I mean, have you ever heard anyone base their decision on whether to have sex on whether they might get cancer in forty years? We as a society already arm our kids with the best knowlege we can give them, about pregnancy, HIV, herpes, syphilis and other STD's, as well as about birth control (including, but not exclusively including, abstinence. How is adding cancer to the mix going to change much? I don't think it will, not at all.

Further, if the objection is about sex it is also very misguided. The young woman in question will be subject to risk for HPV exposure whenever she first has sexual activity. She could be a virgin on her wedding night, and could still be at risk from her husband if she does not have the vaccine. So the objections by those who are worried about sex endangers not only the 'bad' girls, but also the 'good' girls just as much.

On top of all that, I reject the premise for not giving the vaccine, if it has anything to do with sex. This kind of thinking leads to people led by fear. And fear should never be used as a tool to get people to do what we want them to.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A lot has changed since 9/11.

I'm sure some of you are wondering where I've been the past week or so. Then again, some of you may not have wondered about that.

Anyway, I've been following a time-honored American tradition, and moonlighting for most of the past week (literally moonlighting, since what I was doing was getting up early in the morning and doing a paper route for a guy who is scheduled to return from vacation today-- but the moon was full this week so there was plenty of light.) Since I still have a fulltime job that is my main priority, it meant that my time online went down to pretty much zero this past week.

And no, I don't have any complaints with what I get paid at work. I get paid better than I used to get paid for doing the same job with other employers in other states.

At the same time gas prices, health care prices, winter heating costs and housing prices have all been rising at double digit rates of increase over the past few years, the fact that bread has only gone up from 89 cents per loaf to 99 cents just doesn't seem to compensate for all those other increases. And having two ten year olds, I don't even want to think about what it will cost to get them braces and send them to college. Hence even those of us who may feel that we are being paid fairly have the same kind of economic angst that polls tell us is being felt fairly broadly around the country. So that's why I 'moonlighted' for a week.

Today I had a chance as I was doing the last day of the paper route to listen to the radio rebroadcast of 9/11.

It made me sad, not only for the events of that day, but to remember what we had then that we have lost.

On September 11, Americans were united. We (even liberal Democrats like myself) supported our President in whatever action he felt was necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice. Therefore, I supported then and still support the Afghan war, though I've felt that it has been badly mismanaged and not made enough of a priority. However, it is a fact that Afghanistan (along with bordering areas of Pakistan) is where al-Qaeda is based so we have to continue to go after them there.

On September 11, the world was united. It was not hard at all to assemble the necessary coalition to go into Afghanistan and get rid of the Taliban government. And included in our coalition were most of the various factions and local warlords in Afghanistan itself, as they did not like the Taliban or the job that the Taliban did in ruthlessly enforcing its version of Islamic law and its political will. The world was united with us and against Osama bin Laden. But since then, by invading a country that had nothing at all to do with 9/11, we have squandered all that good will away, to the extent that there are even those who consider us to be as dangerous as bin Laden.

On September 11, Americans were ready to sacrifice whatever they were asked to support the war effort. Yet, suddenly this war was not like other wars, they were told that unless they were among those who volunteered to go, they didn't have to sacrifice. Heck, the third of a trillion we have sunk into the Iraq war (which dwarfs the amount spent on the Afghan war) didn't even dent the plans for more massive tax cuts for the wealthy, so that future generations will have to pay.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Terrorism and Afghan War

The President has recently been focusing a great deal on the Afghan war and the prospects of continued action against al-Qaeda. I've been extraordinarily busy for the past few days and haven't gotten to spend much time online but I've been following the news.

I'd like to address this whole topic.

First, I never have opposed or questioned the need for us to have gone into Afghanistan as was the case with Iraq. Unlike Iraq, the people who attacked us on 9/11 did operate from Afghanistan, and did so behind the shield of the Taliban government.

I wrote in a post a few weeks ago (which had the broad ranging title, statement of philosophy: Peace and War on the war in Afghanistan:

[I] consider that our present conflict in Afghanistan was necessary to enter into. Recall that prior to 9/11, Osama bin Laden had organized the African Embassy bombings, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole and a number of other terrorist incidents around the world. Clearly 9/11 was an attack on the U.S., and clearly bin Laden was not planning to stop his attacks (nor has he, as the murderous attacks in Bali, Madrid and London show.) And George Bush did one right thing-- he gave the Taliban, the regime that was harboring bin Laden, a chance to hand him over before ordering an attack.

From that moment, the war was mismanaged. Despite the fact that at that time we had nearly universal support from the world, George W. Bush made it clear that he was only interested in those who would pursue the whole war in his way, and refused to even consider advice from other foreign leaders-- some of whom know quite a bit more about Afghanistan than we do. Then, after making alliances with local warlords of dubious dependability (something the other leaders might have reminded him about) he sent them in to actually get bin Laden at Tora Bora instead of U.S. marines. This allowed bin Laden to spread enough of his influence and cash around to make good his escape. Then came the biggest error in Afghanistan. The biggest mistake we made there IS the war in Iraq. As Afghanistan slipped onto the back burner, and we were content with fighting a war of attrition, the mood palpably changed, and the dubious warlords began considering their options again. Our investment became an afterthought, returning Afghanistan roughly to the state it was in following the abandonment of the country after the Soviet War-- a society impoverished both economically and by its isolation, that allowed al-Qaeda and the Taliban to flourish the first time-- as they are starting to do again now. Our international backing began to dwindle (exacerbated by such events as when George Bush takes a country like Canada, which had lost five soldiers in a friendly fire incident supporting Americans in Afghanistan, and informs them that they are being punished for not backing us in Iraq). With attacks and hostility towards the Americans on the rise in Afghanistan, we may have lost our chance to create a model for the region. Right now, I believe that with a renewed focus on Afghanistan, there could still be hope, and as long as bin Laden is alive we should pursue him, but if the intent is to ignore Afghanistan some more (which seems to be the case with the recent announcment that we are disbanding the special unit tasked with hunting for him there), then we are in a downward spiral and in that case it might be best to withdraw. And Iraq is still going, which makes it seem as though this is the case.

Now, I hope that the administration is serious in terms of their commitment for a renewed focus on Afghanistan. We've blown what advantages we had, but unlike Iraq, we were right to get into this one and we must be clear on the need to stop nowhere until bin Laden is either dead or in custody and his organization ceases to be a threat.

At the same time, I am somewhat dubious about all of this. For starters, look at the recent report that the CIA disbanded their special unit to hunt for bin Laden late last year. I had an interesting discussion on that on July 2 and 4th over the question of whether they might have made a deal with bin Laden to get Zarqawi. I personally am very skeptical of this (yes, there are still a handful of things I don't think George Bush won't do, but then again I've been unpleasantly surprised by him too often to feel 100% sure about anything.) But it remains a fact that we have scaled back the hunt for bin Laden so if I am skeptical about whether a deal was made, I am also skeptical about the renewed focus on it.

There is also the matter of the transfer of inmates from secret prisons. I will point out tangentially that conservatives who said, "You won't find any secret prisons, because they don't exist" are once again made to look like blindly pre-programmed idiots by their own President who once again reversed course and came out this week and said there are, and that he is transferring inmates from them to Guantanamo. In response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that said that military tribunals are illegal because they were not approved by Congress, he wants Congress to pass a bill authorizing it. And Congress will-- that was already on their agenda for this next session. So the question is, why he is making such a big deal out of it.

The answer can be found by looking at past history, some numbers and a calendar.

In 2002 (when support for the Iraq war was building, carefully pushed along by the President's shrill warnings about WMD) The White House pushed for a resolution in October authorizing 'use of force' against Iraq. Never mind that the war didn't start until months later, the Senate 'had' to vote on it in October 2002. Then in 2004, there was a renewed focus on fighting terrorism and Afghanistan in September and October 2004. Then Afghanistan pretty much dropped back to the back burner until recently.

Why is this? Well, it would take a blindly pre-programmed conservative to argue that this has nothing to do with political calculation.

Right now, the President's poll numbers and those of the GOP in general are very poor. People who are struggling more and more to pay bills don't buy all those statistics on the economy-- since the gap between the rich and poor has widened dramatically under Bush, the economy on average can do pretty good while the lower 4/5 of the economic wage earners are doing pretty bad.

Gas prices are still high. Sure, they are headed lower-- but considering where they were just a couple of years ago, a drop from $3/gallon to $2.50 per gallon still reinforces the fact that the 'new normal' is higher than the old 'very high.'

5 million more people are without health insurance, having lost it. And many more people, even if they have insurance are struggling to afford America's 'Cadillac health care' system on a 'Chevrolet budget.'

The one year anniversary of Katrina has brought back one of the biggest failures of the Bush administration.

And looming over all of those, the President's poll numbers on Iraq are atrocious-- nearly twice as many people think we should leave as stay.

After five years of the President's 'No child left behind' education initiative, scores on standardized college tests like the SAT are dropping again after several years of increases. In lower grades children are performing more poorly than they were just a few years ago.

In fact, the President has only one good polling number left. On terrorism. Of course the number of terror attacks worldwide is about the same as it was five years ago so we haven't really done much about it, but he is still perceived favorably on the issue.

So that explains a lot of why, with the election less than nine weeks away, we are suddenly seeing such a renewed focus on the war in Afghanistan right now.

Sure, conservatives will express shock at my questioning the President's motives.

All I'd say is, be sure to continue to ask him about the war in Afghanistan in November after the election and December.

Because I bet that by Christmas, Afghanistan will be relegated to the same second thought that it has been over the past few years. Hope I'm wrong, but that's what I expect.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin dead from stingray attack

Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile hunter" was killed by a stingray, which pierced his heart with its venomous tail.

Irwin had a love of animals and wildlife biology. His spectacular stunts though, in which he not only wrestled crocodiles but did things with all sorts of wild animals that brought about the "don't try this at home," disclaimer were always a concern, especially that children might try fighting snakes or otherwise replicate stunts on the show.

But I understand why Irwin did it. His goal was to keep people interested in animals, especially with an eye to preserving the many threatened and endangered species that face habitat destruction, competition with non-native species, pollutants in their environment and other dangers brought about by humans. In today's fast paced, 'thrill-a-minute' society, it took someone like Irwin to get people to notice animals, from which he could begin to educate them.

I was never a huge fan of Irwin's show myself (my kids and I much prefer the Kratt brothers, similar but never doing things as dangerous as Irwin and who always advise 'always give a wild animal her space,') but in the end Steve Irwin did serve to raise awareness, and he deserves credit for that. As this incident, and the tiger attack on Roy Horn a couple of years ago show, animals can be dangerous and we should always treat them with respect.

And as to the manner of his death, it's not such a surprise and I don't know if Irwin would have it any other way. Somehow, 'car accident' or 'heart attack' would be less fitting for his obituary than 'stung to death by a stingray.'

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Today I was threatened with arrest. The crime? Calling a Republican, "a Republican."

Today I went to a rally sponsored by the White Mountain Democrats, where we heard from candidates including Senatorial candidate Jim Pederson, Attorney General Terry Goddard (who was instrumental in pushing forward the case against Warren Jeffs, which I blogged on a few days ago) and two of our Congressional candidates, Bob Donahue and Mike Caccioppoli (who I endorsed in this post a couple of weeks ago.) We also heard from candidates for Corporation Commission, Superintendent of Instruction and State Senate. As this is ten days before the primary election a number of people came to learn more about the candidates.

There was a minor incident as well that involved me, and I would like to address that here. Bradley Carlyon is a Republican running for Superior Court Judge against Tom Wing (who I've known for some time, and I was even more impressed with once I saw him in action back when I was on a grand jury earlier this year-- Judge Wing two or three times filled in for the usual judge in accepting-- or not accepting-- the indictments we sent him; Judge Wing didn't rubber stamp them, but took the time to question them and refused to accept a couple that had serious flaws.) Although judgeships are partisan elections here in which each party selects its nominee in the primary just as we do for other positions, judges are not designated on the general election ballot by partisan affiliation. Neither Judge Wing nor Carlyon have primary opponents so they are already campaigning for November.

So Bradley Carlyon's official campaign vehicle, plastered with signs was parked at the rally, and put right in front where it was impossible to miss, apparently designed to fool Democrats. After all, who would be at a Democratic rally just days before the primary? mainly Democrats. Conspicuously absent from Carlyon's vehicle was any indication that he was a Republican. So the attempt was being made to misrepresent Bradley Carlyon as 'one of the faithful' to faithful Democrats.

So, I decided to write a note on a piece of paper. It said, "This Guy is a REPUBLICAN, running against Tom Wing." So the note was factually correct, and not insulting, except to someone who does not want to be identified as a Republican.

When I went to put it on the vehicle (using tape which would not leave any mark on the window), the owner (who it turns out is Mr. Carlyon's wife) came storming out and threatened to call the police and have me handcuffed if I touched her vehicle. Of course, if I attached it to her vehicle then I would have in effect 'given' it to her and she would have been perfectly within her rights to have removed it, ripped it to shreds and thrown it in the trash, but apparently that thought never crossed her mind and she wanted to call the cops.

So seeing an opportunity here, I decided to do it. Most probably the officer would show up and tell her something to the effect of, "You wasted my time with THIS?" And frankly I was hoping to be arrested, because if it got into the papers then it would certainly embarrass Mr. Carlyon more than me, if I got arrested just for telling people he is a Republican, and in any case he is running for office and I'm not.

I talked to my party chair first and asked him if he could take care of my two kids and see that they got home safely in the 'extremely unlikely' event I was actually arrested over this. So then I put the sign on, Mrs. Carlyon angrily stomped over and got out her cell phone and told me it was 'my last chance.' I really did want her to call, but Ken (my party chair) told me that he thought I'd made my point and could put the sign up next to the vehicle on a portable easel. And I can see why he probably said that-- the event should garner some positive local press for the White Mountain Democrats and they might not want to louse it up with an incident involving police. I can respect that line of thinking though I had no intention of giving in to Mrs. Carlyon's threats. So I put it on the easel next to the vehicle. Then later on Ken took the mike and told people they shouldn't be fooled and that the signage was for 'Tom Wing's Republican opponent.'

I would have been happy to be arrested in order to make a Republican candidate look like a fool (especially for objecting to a sign that merely identified him as a Republican). As it is though, it is comforting to note that it is Republicans, not Democrats, who (in the words of Maryland Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Michael Steele) now have to deal with that 'scarlet letter 'R.' They can thank George Bush for that.
Flag Counter