Naked Politics. Ummm… No.

First we have an obsession with Hilary Clintons cleavage, and now the political “full monty”? Is this what politics have come down to?:

More Australian voters would like to see Labor Opposition leader Kevin Rudd naked than their current prime minister, John Howard, a poll showed on Sunday just two weeks out from a hard-fought general election. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Granted this was an Australian poll, but still, somehow, politicians and nudity in the same sentence? Just not working for me. Seriously. Some people have waaaay too much time on their hands…

Which politician do voters want to see nude? – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Contrary to what the evidence might suggest…

You know, one of the things I find amazing about the current administration is how flexible their definition of events and scenarios are. And how they see whatever they want to see, and declare whatever they see fit, ratified by presidential decree. Even when it is obvious as the light of day that the truth is actually contradictory to the presidents view of things.

Like the President declaring “Mission Accomplished” without having achieved any of the stated mission goals. Or that the national outrage about the war in Iraq is little more than the opinions of a focus group. Or even that global warming is a natural phenomenon. Or that you can win a war with terrorists using conventional warfare. Or that you can introduce national stability into a country torn by civil war using the aforementioned conventional warfare. I could go on, but I think the picture is abundantly clear.

But then again I’ve never governed a country. But when former presidents of said country begin to speak out against the current administrations actions then, well, hey there has to be some merit to it right? Apparently not.

Former president Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview, called out the president on the issue of prisoner torture and the violation of human rights, in regard to:

… secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of “harsh interrogation techniques.” These include “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures,” – [CNN Politics]

The Prez’s response?:

Responding to the newspaper report Friday, Bush defended the techniques used, saying, “This government does not torture people.” – [CNN Politics]

The white house response?:

After reading a transcript of Carter’s remarks, a senior White House official said, “Our position is clear. We don’t torture.” – [CNN Politics]

Well OK then. I am by no means an authority in torture, however slapping a person upside the head until they sing like a bird, sounds like torture to me. I mean, it ain’t exactly the same as a swedish massage now is it? But if the President and White house officials say it’s not torture, well then I stand corrected!

But if I slap my next door neighbor cross-eyed while attempting to find out what he did with the lawn mower I lent him last year, I better not hear any lip about it from the peanut gallery. And I’ll sue whoever calls the police…

Da Prez Gats Prahoritahs…

In the latest mind-numbing news, our illustrious Prez has vetoed a bill intended to expand health benefits for American children:

The Democrats who control Congress, with significant support from Republicans, passed the legislation to add $35 billion over five years to allow an additional 4 million children into the program. It would be funded by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.

His reasoning for the veto?:

“Poor kids first,” Bush said. “Secondly, I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system.”

Ah. Yes. Of course. Poor Kids First. Sure thing there Mr. Prez. And the Federal government should absolutely stay out of health care. Yeah. What was I thinking. Silly Dems. Healthcare insurance isn’t for middle class kids. Please enlighten us further:

The president argued that the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far beyond its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage. He has proposed only a $5 billion increase in funding. After Bush’s speech, White House counselor Ed Gillespie said the president’s offer of more money meant more than the $5 billion extra, but he wasn’t specific about how much more. – [Yahoo/AP]

Hmmm. Now lemme see here. Apparently you are perfectly fine with the approximately $454 (and swiftly rising) Billion US dollars that we have spent sending many brave American soldiers into a shadow war, (I won’t even go into how many of them aren’t coming back) but $35 Billion to fund kids health care (over 5 years) is too costly? Interesting.

So your priority at the moment would be to ensure that we stay at war with an enemy in hiding, and attempt to stabilize a country that is founded on quicksand, for as long as possible. As opposed to taking steps to help ensure that about 4 million American kids have the opportunity to remain healthy. Primarily because you are afraid of “freeloaders”. Huh.

Mr. Prezidente, your Kung-Fu is mystical. And strong. And as sensible as standing barefoot in a muddy open field, wearing a hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and a tin foil hat in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Bush vetoes child health insurance plan – [Yahoo/AP]

Ya need a “Speak & Spell” with that?

Notwithstanding my recent rant about the qualities I think a good president should have, this gem I ran into today was good for a laugh:

 A quickly remedied glitch momentarily gave visitors to the UN website a version of Bush’s UN General Assembly speech that included phonetic spellings for world leaders, a former Soviet satellite, and at least one capital.

OK, now I do know that teleprompters are a common appearance at public speeches but the text contained in this particular teleprompter elicited a little chuckle from yours truly:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “sar-KO-zee.” Mauritania should be said “moor-EH-tain-ee-a.” Kyrgyzstan sounds like “KEYR-geez-stan.” And the capital of Zimbabwe President Robert “moo-GAH-bee” Mugabe is Harare “hah-RAR-ray.”

This makes me wonder if he just flat out ignores the teleprompter whenever he is supposed to say “nuclear”. I even found the response from the White house spokeswoman, when asked about the presidents elocutive “difficulties”, hilarious:

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said such phonetic guidance is common but curtly rebuffed a questioner who wanted to know whether Bush has a hard time with certain names: “I think that’s a offensive question. I’m going to just decline to comment on it.” – [Yahoo/AFP]

Oh, come now Ms. Perino.  Exactly how is that question offensive? Is it offensive because he has difficulties or because he doesn’t? I mean, I could see how asking that question of a mentally challenged person could be construed as offensive or insensitive, but our president isn’t mentally challenged is he…? Wait… Err… Mercy…

Speak ‘Bush’ in one easy lesson – [Yahoo/AFP]

Presidential ignorance is a curse…

You may remember many moons ago I posted about American citizenship, and whether or not a citizenship exam should include questions on things like sports, world events, and cultural awareness. Now in this bloggers humble opinion, these things are not a true measure of whether or not a person will be a good American.

I would rather have every aspiring American citizen take an ethics test and be done with it. In fact I’d like to see every young American, not just immigrants be required to take a federally mandated ethics test when they reach legal age, before they are allowed to be considered a legal adult. I think the country would benefit from this more than anything else. The rest of it is almost inconsequential by comparison.

Almost. There are many positions where I think a broader, more comprehensive test of ones knowledge, ethics, social awareness and general knowledge of world events and character should be a mandatory requirement. High ranking police and military are a couple that come to mind some of them. Even your average street cop should ideally have comprehensive periodic psych evals, as well as more ethics and social training. But most important of all, President of the United States of America should be one of those positions that requires all of the above.

Before you ever get to see elections, or even start running for president, I think you should, at the very least, be able to demonstrate significantly above average ability on an IQ test, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of social, political and world issues. This should be a requirement for the position.

Why? Because ignorance has absolutely no place in a presidential office. No self respecting IT department would hire a professional bricklayer for their server administration. Nor would a construction company hire a nerd for manual labor. Why does the same not apply for the oval office? People with that kind of power need to know how to use it intelligently. And when I read some of the (many) questionable things our outgoing president has to say, It is clear to me that he is lacking in that department:

In a speech defending his administration’s Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

“I heard somebody say, Where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,” – [Reuters]

Saddam killed all the Mandelas?!? You know, any country as great as this one really ought to be run by someone who has a modicum of awareness about important world leaders, events, issues, etc. I’m all for presidency being open to any American citizen, but shouldn’t there at least be some sort of IQ requirement? World knowledge? Social awareness? How about the basic ability to form coherent, meaningful and intelligent sentences?

The presidency should be open to everyone, but at the same time, becoming president should be a highly selective process. I don’t believe that it should be solely the domain of highly educated aristocrats though. Lord knows we don’t need more classism. But I think that maybe the presidency shouldn’t be an option for your common, average everyday ignoramus either…

Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark – [Reuters]

Mission NOT Accomplished…

Today, I read an article that, I think, basically confirms what I’m sure most of us already figured out.

 Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush’s Iraq war strategy, The Associated Press has learned. – [Yahoo/AP]

I’m not going to go into all that much detail about it because it’s all in the article (the link is below)  But I will say this. As an American citizen I feel that we have been mislead, lied to, and flat out treated like imbeciles, by our government. No matter how much spin you put on a deception, it is still a deception.

The fact that our president could brazenly claim “Mission Accomplished” when so many of the goals we believed he intended to achieve had not been reached, is to me, showing a lack of respect for the citizens of this great nation. We have not accomplished our mission. I say we have been party to an “Epic Fail”.

Little progress seen on Iraq goals – [Yahoo/AP]

Politics Suck. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

When I hit the “New Post” button for this, I intended to rant about how the Clinton/Obama debate had gotten completely off track. But as I sat here thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it’s an incredible waste of time.

I’m beginning to think that politics is basically just a great big corrupting machine. This fact hit doubly hard when I realized that somehow, the opinions of Mikhail Gorbachev made more sense (for the most part) than that of my own government. The fact that our presidential hopefuls are at each others throats rather than attacking problems isn’t helping my confidence in the future of the country much either.

07/28/2007 – UPDATE :
Now with added Cleavage!!

Clinton-Obama flap shifts race to negative tone – [Yahoo/Reuters]
Gorbachev blasts American ‘imperialism’ – [Yahoo/AP]
Washington split over Clinton cleavage – [Yahoo/AFP]

Obamas’ flameless firestorm…

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama apparently ignited a “firestorm” of controversy by responding to a YouTubers video questioner that he would, “without precondition”, meet with leaders of renegade regimes:

In Monday’s debate from Charleston, S.C., Obama was asked by a questioner via YouTube if he would be willing to meet — without precondition — in the first year of his presidency with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

“I would,” he responded.

Clinton said she would not. “I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes,” she said. Clinton said she would first use envoys to test the waters. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now I’m no political expert, so my opinion may hold little value. But Hilary Clintons rebuttal makes no sense either. At least not to my admittedly politically intolerant mind. What exactly does the phrase “I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes” mean? And why is the possibility of being a propaganda item more important than establishing peaceful relationships? And why has this possible method of establishing a peaceful resolution been equated to pandering to rogue nations?

If a police officer tries to get a criminal to cooperate in an investigation, does that mean he/she is pandering to the criminal element? Is plea bargaining pandering? It’s done all the time. How is this concept any different? It seems some folks are more concerned with the appearance of impropriety than actually solving problems. This is why I hate politics.

I am a big fan of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought, but our current international policy is broken. Severely. It just ain’t workin’ out too well for us. And we can’t honestly just sit here and say we don’t care what other countries think. It should have become apparent by now that our ability to solve our international problems is seriously affected by other nations relationship with us.

Perhaps we need to try something new. And at least Obama is willing to give it a shot, even if he is a newbie. I certainly don’t think he can do much worse than we are doing right now, especially if we continue with our current, and in my humble opinion, seriously jacked-up policies. So why not?

Obama debate comments set off firestorm – [Yahoo/AP]

Hey it’s a Bank Robber! BOMB THE BANK!!!

Our esteemed President has taken up the bull horn, yet again, to warn us of the dangers that Iraq poses to the security of the mighty U.S. of A.:

“The merger between al-Qaida and its Iraqi affiliate is an alliance of killers and that is why the finest military in the world is on their trail,” Bush said. …

… “That’s like watching a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun and saying, ‘He’s probably just there to cash a check,’” Bush told troops at Charleston Air Force Base. – [Yahoo/AP]

Even if we were in the position of seeing “a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun” which I still have am not convinced were were, I would point out that our current actions are more akin to blowing up the bank in an attempt to thwart a possible robbery. It’s a no win. At the very least, I can take some small solace in the fact that a good many rational American people have realized the illogical nature of our current predicament. Might does not make right.

That is not to say that we should be doormats. I am by no means a pacifist. Strength and power is a tool, much like any other. And I mean no disrespect or slight to those who have suffered as a result of terrorist attacks, but I believe strength should be used to defend innocence. Not as a tool of retribution, or even control.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, terrorists do not spawn in a vacuum. Nor are they simple lunatics. They are generally themselves recipients of terrorist acts, that have learned to respond in kind. But responding in anger only fuels more anger, and violence only breeds more violence. And right now we are wreaking untold levels of violence upon both the innocent as well as the guilty, and breeding anger like freakin’ rabbits, where there was none.

We are performing the mythological equivalent of attacking a hydra by cutting off each of it’s heads, one by one. And as each head falls, two more grow in it’s place. And even if we eventually kill the beast, and eliminate all of the true terrorists, the survivors of the innocents shall remain, bearing us so much hatred that, much like Heracles, if we don’t wise up, the blood of the hydra will eventually poison us to death…

Bush warns anew of al-Qaida threat – [Yahoo/AP]

Presidential Shenanigans…

“I’m finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don’t think they are.” – Ellen Ripley (From the movie “Alien: Resurrection”)

Was reading a “funny” article earlier today about the White House response to the Clintons’ criticism of President Bushs’ commutation of Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence (wow that was a mouthful!!):

Scott Stanzel, a White House deputy press secretary, said that, “When you think about the previous administration and the 11th-hour, fire-sale pardons … it’s really startling that they have the gall to criticize what we believe is a very considered, a very deliberate approach to a very unique case.” – [Yahoo/AP]

The article goes on to describe how White House officials compared the commutation of “Scooter” Libbys’ sentence to the 140 or so odd pardons granted by former president Bill Clinton just before he left the office.

OK. Now I’m neither a politician or a lawyer, So I’m not going to even attempt to navigate the minefield that is the relationship between the White House and Mr. “Scooter” Libby, but I can certainly see a big difference between a pardon granted to a “fugitive financier”, and that of a government agent who’s position was such that any irresponsible actions could very well compromise national security, and in so doing, the safety and well being of the American people.

Not to mention that, according to the article, there is apparently no legal language that allows a person that has served no time to be given a probationary sentence. Maybe I’m just be being sensationalist. Or splitting hairs. But something smells fishy. And it’s overpowering the salmon I had for dinner. I’m calling shenanigans. How ’bout you…?

White House reacts to Clintons’ comments – [Yahoo/AP]