Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What Do We Do About the Dems?

I know that everyday Dems have been rather saddened by the news of the "compromise" of the spending bill. In fact, on talk radio last night, I had heard phone calls saying that they were so incensed at what happened that they wanted to change their voter affiliation to "Decline to State" as a show of no-confidence in the Democratic leaning Congress.

However, I tend to have a different view on the turn of events. Yes, in my heart of hearts, I wish that there were more Dems in the mold of Sen. Feingold, Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Dennis Kucinich who would stand up and voice their opinions anyway despite the Republican stranglehold that seems to be over government these days. It is true that I would like the Dems to gain a little backbone and fight back beyond a mere exchange of words. I would like for them to be more consolidated in terms of building efforts to gain support among the American populace because this is certainly a time in which the government does not have our best interests at heart.

But, I think that the Dems shouldn't have given in to let President Bush get what he wants: no time-table in terms of pulling the troops out of Iraq. When I heard last night that the latest version of the bill would not have this stipulation included, I just shook my head. Boy, I ask, what other political commentators have inquired throughout the day: "In this concession, what did the Dems get out of it?" Heck. It seemed that President Bush and his cronies didn't lose a damned thing in the fight to bring the troops home. It seemed as if he had gotten things his way without even giving in anything on his part to do so.

I would wish that Speaker of the House Pelosi would finally put her foot down and tear up the latest version of the bill. It would be a show of force to just tell President Bush, "Too bad" and keep on rolling with the past version. Mr. Bush could scream and yell. He, as well as the Karl Rove, could send out Republican talking points to the news outlets ad nauseum with special beatdowns by Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews and the rest.

But the point would have been made. Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid and the rest of the Dems would have said no to Mr. Bush and his demands because the majority of the American people do not want this war in Iraq to go on. And if they, among a group of others in their platform, would have faced the camera and said exactly that, it would be seen as a position of strength that goes beyond compromises.

This is the time not to worry about the effects such a decision might have in Election 2008. The bill is representative of an issue that has torn the nation, if not the world, at the seams. And there needs to be movement against "staying the course" and pouring more funds into a situation that hasn't made any progress since it has started. It should say something when Mr. Bush's own party, the GOP, had demanded a show of progress "or else" (and we still don't know to this day what the "or else" means).

Ignore the Rovian talking points. Stop believing the hype about the fear campaign that is used to keep us in line. It's time for the people to compel the Dems to have courage in their fight against the President in order to set things right and bring our troops home.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Small Note About My Mother

Mother's Day, of course, is a time in which we pay homage to our mothers for doing the things that they do in order to make our lives better through love and nurturing. It is also a time to think deeply about why they work so hard to help us in the name of love.

And, I'd like to share a little bit about my own mom.

I think about my own mother, who is an intelligent, beautiful, witty and elegant woman. She always has a kind word to say about everyone while being tough as nails. She donates her time to worthy causes, especially with the homeless. And, knowing that she is a strong lady who carries herself with the utmost dignity, she has taught me to do the same even when times are difficult.

She has always influenced my sister and myself that life had a lot of possibilities for us. When we were little, she took us to the library three times a week. And she would always read to us before we went to bed. What was especially neat is that she would discuss what we were reading with us. That simple act led us on to bigger and better things, especially when staying aware of what was affecting us in terms of culture, society and politics.

My mom wouldn't call herself a political animal by any stretch of the imagination. However, she would always watch the news, listen to the radio and read a paper everyday. It was because of those simple habits, that she encouraged us to do the same. For my sister and myself, doing such things weren't boring. Because she and my father had told us early in life that events in society and politics affected us personally, that we had to stay aware of what was happening. As a result, she also had a part in introducing political talk around the dinner table every night until I left home to pursue higher education. Our dinner table was never silent. While pork chops or spaghetti was put on the plate, my mother would start out many a night by saying, "Did you guys hear about.....". Before we knew it, it would be a full fledged conversation not only of the things that happened in our lives, but how they extended into politics and culture.

Ever since I could remember, she would always encourage us to read and watch the news. In fact, it wasn't an assignment for myself or my sister. We'd do it because it would produce some of the most lively and interesting discussions around the dinner table. And although she wasn't as vocal as my dad and myself, she would make sure that her side was heard. And that was an important lesson for me. As you already know, I have always said that I am a very shy person. On-line, I have learned how to speak up for myself more. Sometimes, it has caused me to take part of some very controversial discussions. But, her act had taught me to speak up and never feel ashamed about my opinion. And it is that very lesson in which I am grateful to her for because without it, I wouldn't have the courage to write a blog, participate in a forum or even have a forum of my own.

She also taught me that even though we don't win every debate or get our feelings fully expressed in every conversation, we pick ourselves up and continue talking. It has been that wise stance that has also carried me through when things got a little contentious in discussing the latest issues that have caused our country much strife.

Even today, we still have those talks on the phone about politics, current news and culture. As we get older, she has revealed to me more and more about how she feels regarding the conditions of society. But, it is always based on the same premise of having the courage and conviction of expressing one's opinion about the world with conscience and erudition.

I thank her for that. Her small lessons in simply reading, conversing and watching the news has made me a more consciously aware adult now.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom, with a lot of love. :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Difficult Choices For the Long Haul

Although forum duties and real life has made everything a bit busy on the home front for me, it has never escaped my mind to think about what America has gotten itself into when it comes to Iraq.

We're at the point in which some very deep choices have to be made. It is time to realize that the body count is getting higher, civil war is breaking out and the policies that the current Administration has pushed are not working. It is even getting to the point that the GOP (led by Minority Whip Trent Lott) is demanding that the Bush White House show some marked improvement or "else"(they never mentioned what the "else" constituted in the news, but it makes you wonder what they have up their sleeves).

Many times I have written on the state of America's soul as a nation. And I think that how we have conducted ourselves overseas can be a pretty good indicator of how dark it is right now. Of course, there will be people with a conscience trying to settle matters as amicably as they could. But in the end, there needs to be a face put on the "collateral damage" that Rumsfeld had glibly put early on in the Iraqi War.

Too many people have died. Too much rubble is in the streets. Iraq still is in the midst of a water and energy shortage. Their police force and army still needs to be built up. And there is still a movement to get America out of the country because damage has ensued.

It is hard to fathom, but there are still a small group of people who still think that we are doing things altruistically over there. In their minds, the United States is bringing "freedom" and "democracy" to Iraq. However, I wonder if they had read the Iraq Study Report made last year or actually view some of the documentaries on the state of things overseas. I even wonder if PNAC, the Downing Street Memos or the oil and defense industries making money over there mean a thing to them.

For the rest of us who do and can wade through the propaganda steadily coming through the pipeline of the MSM, we see the drastic effects of a failed policy that resulted in an insurmountable war. There are even more of us that voted our conscience last November when we got the politicians out who was contributing to this terrible policy and were instrumental in leading us as a country down the wrong path.

And seven years later, we still have not had any answers in terms of the "Terror Threat Management" theory that has been cast over the national populace. There are no answers for the torture that happened in Abu Graib or in Guantanamo Bay. No explainations are coming for "staying the course" over there, even with the protestations that George Tenet had spoken of in the press as of late.

We are still in a quagmire that continues to grow. Hope continues that a brave memberof Congress will force the issue of finally getting the truth out there so the American people can actually see what went wrong. And hopefully, there will be wise politicians finally starting to put together an exit strategy so that the men and women of our armed forces finally come home.

But the terrible realisation still is coming when viewing the repercussions of what had happened in the Middle East. America has ruined its good standing on the world stage. It has caused a lot of countries to question our mindset when choosing national leaders to govern the nation. And of course, we have still have to deal with reparing these politics in terms of foreign diplomacy.

It's time for Congress and the current Administration to finally stop the shenanigans and put an end to this dark mark in history so that things can change for the better.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Are Americans Too Soft?

Whenever the call has been made to get to the truth of the Iraq War and to impeach the President of the United States, there has always been the rejoinder, "We wouldn't want to put the American people through a long trial". I've always wondered why, after all the descriptions of American "rugged individualism", "outspokeness" and "liberty", do dignitaries think that we cannot handle the truth coming out in a Congressional oversight committee or an independent hearing. Is it the fact that after being citizens of a "Super Power" in which we are "number one", that we wilt when we see our national leaders sit and squirm while they tell us what we've wanted to know after this time?

Perish the thought. Americans are more hardier than that. We don't sip mint juleps on the veranda and have a fainting spell at the slightest offense. It's all about keeping the cold, hard facts from the people and letting them sift through seven years of double-speak and talking points put forth by the MSM. It's a shame, too. Because there are answers to be had--especially after America entered the war with Iraq. We need to know about the torture that happened at the detention centers at home and abroad. We also need to find out why after all the UN fact checking that it just couldn't be taken as gospel that there were on WMD's in Iraq.

We also need to see some demonstration of holding our national leaders accountable for what has happened in Iraq. It doesn't need to be a polite, genteel proceeding like the ones you usually see when the Senate and the House is in session. There shouldn't be, "I'll yield three minutes to the Gentleman from so-and-so" and "I respectfully yield my time". No, nyet, nada.

There are sometimes that civility needs to be done away with in order to get to the truth. Sometimes, that viability has to be hard to hear. But for historical purposes, it needs to be done. The justification that the Congress is the "people's house" has to be restored. As I had spoken to someone earlier, it is the fact that we pay taxes. As a result, the salaries and elections of our politicians are in our hands. We ought to know what they are doing. And one must get tired of hearing scandal after scandal, whatever-gate after whatever-gate. Don't you think after so many years of flubs, side-stepping and denials, that someone ought to come clean and tell us the straight dope?

It is apropro to bring up another one of my common motifs in my entries: that America has to find its soul. Yes, our soul has been tattered and torn during the years of the current Administration. Our spirit has been tested through trials of fear, terrorism and words only meant to soothe temporary wounds. But the salve will not just work anymore. There needs to be some major surgery in order for our country to heal and get better.

Part of that has to be a call for courage and conscience in the government. Judging from the November 2006 elections, the citizens voted for a change in the way that business is done. Don't you think that someone might have the bravery to speak out and get the ball rolling before we sink any deeper in these dark times in which secrecy is held supreme and truth is duplicitous?

Let's hope so.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

One cannot forget when the President of the United States stood upon a battleship dressed in a flight uniform and pronounced to a rapt crowd, "Mission Accomplished". The euphoria of that day denoted that the conflict in Iraq was over. The "Shock and Awe" that rained bombs upon Baghdad in a firey display had demonstrated the power of American supremacy. In the perception of the past, Mr. Bush and Co. thought it was going to be easy. It was as good as taking the oil and running away with giving another country some much needed "democracy" to boot.

Boy, he was wrong. What the past proclamation did was awaken a "sleeping giant". If you fast forward today, recruitment for Al Qaeda is higher. The Iraqi people are in the midst of civil war between the different religious sects in their own country. And the "insurgents" began to wage a war against the occupation that has decimated their country.

Mr. Bush--allegedly in the height of the "We're number one!" business--didn't perceive that acts of aggression have real effects. Not everyone is going to take what America is going to give hook, line and sinker. Due to foreign policies that flew in the face of the diplomacy in the past, we are not "number one" in the eyes of the world. In fact, a lot of people overseas question the judgement of the American people for voting in such a man and adopting his policies.

For the rest of us who question the policies that were laid out from the "Mission Accomplished" stance, we also had to put up with the calls of being "liberal" and "unpatriotic". After all, anyone who would feel a little put off from the orgiastic display of that day, would not be for America, right?

Six years down the road and four years of warfare in Iraq have slowly bubbled to the surface. It seems that the evidence, propaganda and testaments to the "good we're doing over there" has run false. It's not so much to say that "we told you so." But now come the time that we've got to work from the the legacy of what happened in order to repair our reputation and end the conflicts that have done so much damage overseas.

It has been said here over the past few months that we need oversight committees. We definitely do. We need investigations into the reasons of the Iraq war, especially concentrating on the evidence and how it was allegedly falsified. It needs to be put into the national record so that citizens in the future can read how not to trust the fate of the nation into the hands of those who don't have our best interests at heart. Furthermore, these records would stand as a testament of a dark time in American society, in which the soul of the nation was lost to the corporation.

The money that was spent on a war based on lies could only show us that we need to urge Congress to keep on threatening to cut off the money. Congress, not the President, has the power of the purse. And even though Mr. Bush is going to veto this bill, they have to have the courage to keep on pushing it. If one would think back a little further about the circumstances that ended the Vietnam War, it was Congressional power of the purse that provided one of the causes to end the fighting.

Despite the current Administration's push toward Executive Privilege, Congress still has a few Aces in their pockets. Play them and relieve the rest of us from enduring the aftermath of bad leadership.


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