Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Jews have the right idea

by Rich Miles

News reports out of Jerusalem today tell us that former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on charges of public corruption. It was the first ever indictment of a current or former Israeli prime minister, and is an extension of corruption charges that were originally filed during Olmert's tenure as prime minister.

Now, I don't have a clue as to whether Olmert is guilty or not. But I do know this: if guilt by association were an acceptable legal principle in Israel, Olmert would already be fried or at best would be on his way to the frier.

But so far it's only an indictment, so we'll pretend for the time being that Olmert is innocent until proven guilty, though I don't know for certain if THAT is an accepted Israeli legal concept either.

Anyway, here's the point I want to make with this: what if the Israelis, one of our staunchest allies if not best friends in the region, did this in part at least to show us a valuable lesson: that a strong and democratic nation can indeed arrest, indict, try and convict a former leader (prime minister, president, etc.) without the country in question falling apart at the seams?

And what if we, fairly intelligent as a nation, got the clue and indicted our former president for much the same charges and more, and in the process managed to punish the worst criminal we ever elected?

Is it possible? Could we yet punish Shrub? Not commensurate with his sins without resorting to the death penalty, which I personally abhor even for Shrub, but what if we could do that?

What would it do to our international prestige? Would we look like asses in the international community? Or would we, as I personally contend, look better for having acknowledged our mistakes and sought to redress them?

I don't know if Israel is that devious. But I do know that the arrest and indictment of Olmert sets an international precedent that we should not ignore.

I myself would pay a quarter to watch the trial of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on TV.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's a few measly popularity points?

by Rich Miles

OK, OK, we don't want to pull a George W Bush and deny the facts, but there are extenuating circumstances:

President Obama's job approval ratings have fallen below 50%.

But you see, he's done some pretty profound and brave shit in his first 7 months in office, and it should be expected that a number of people are going to be against him because of that. This whole health care initiative has probably cost him 8-10 points in the polls. No one knows where it's going to go - no one knows if it's going to pass, or tank taking Obama's presidential fortunes with it. And of those who have changed their minds about Obama in the past few months, I'd wager that a good 8-10 points' worth have changed simply because they think Obama is gonna crash and burn, and they don't want to be seen to be supporting a loser.

So I'm not too worried about Obama's loss of some popularity points. I rather doubt he is either, in fact he says in the linked article that he's not. Not in the same arrogant way that GWB wasn't concerned, but nonetheless.

After the health care initiative has made it to the floor, and been voted on, and passed, we'll revisit this issue. And my guess is, if it DOES pass, and I think it will, then Preznit Obama's job approval rating will lodge somewhere in the low to mid-70's.

At least, that's what *I* think...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When did making sense become optional?

by Rich Miles

You know what I don't understand about conservatives?

Well, there are a lot of things I don't understand about them, like for instance why they even exist, but here's the main thing, and while I haven't articulated this before now, it's been true for quite a while:

What I don't understand is, why do conservatives believe - and believe as if Gospel - the words and thoughts of idiots like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck (less and less as time goes on), and others of their lying, self-deceiving and hate-filled ilk, but they DO NOT believe the President of the United States.

Now, these are the same people, in large part, who got their knickers in a major twist ANY TIME anyone even so much as questioned the slightest judgment of their beloved George W. Bush.

And never, or hardly ever, do ANY of these people even question whether the heinous crap they're laying on Pres. Obama even makes SENSE!

I mean, does the concept of "death panels" make any sense? Does anyone really believe the government could even get away with instituting such a horrible concept?

Surely, if it's thought through, the answer to the above MUST be "no".

And so it is with any number of other points of objection maintained by the righties. They just don't make sense. And yet, the right-wingers believe them. And WILL NOT believe the standard authority figures, not that they should be believed out of hand, but that they are at least a first point of departure.

For sensible people, anyway.

But au fin, the Marching Morons continue to live in fear, and continue to refer NOT to people who might reasonably be able to allay their fears, but to those who play to them, and who increase their fears.

I don't get it. And it's my guess that even the people who DO it don't understand why they do it either.

They're just like Pavlov's dogs. Only dumber.

Teddy's passing

by Rich Miles

Update: What about Kennedy's widow? I'm not kidding, she's one sharp cookie, and has the same or nearly the same politics that Teddy had. What about Vickie Kennedy, no joke!

Ted Kennedy is dead.

It's a strange thing, but I feel a personal sense of loss at his passing. Just as I did when his brother Jack died in 1963, when I was 10 years old, and when his brother Bobby died in 1968. Only a little bit worse, because I'm now an old man, or oldish anyway, who has some understanding now of mortality.

But enough about me, let's talk about the country. How are we going to replace Ted? Doesn't matter whether the governor of Massachusetts does it, or there is a special election, how are we going to find a new Ted Kennedy? There is a reason he was known as the Lion of the Senate, and not just any old fool can replace him.

Barney Frank might be a good choice, but then the people of Mass. will be faced with the problem of replacing Barney in the House. No mean feat in itself.

Other than that, I have no idea. But I know this: we - all Americans, and perhaps even all the world - are the poorer for the passing of this fine, humane and brilliant man.

Requiescat in pace, Edward M. Kennedy. We will miss you in ways that we cannot even anticipate today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Obiter Obit

by Rich Miles

OK, so I don't speak Latin:

Don Hewitt is dead. What a shame. Would that we had 20 more like him only younger.

Robert Novak is dead. I have absolutely nothing else to say on this topic, or at least nothing that's decent.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Riots in the Streets

by Rich Miles

A small factoid has slipped by us all in recent months, and as 2009 draws to a close, we draw ever closer to this factoid coming to pass:

There is not going to be a Social Security COLA in early 2010.

Now, needless to say, the SocSec Administration has not trumpeted this information too terribly far and wee, so a lot of old folks don't know this yet. But when they do learn it, there is going to be blood in the streets.

Perhaps literally. But figuratively in any case.

You see, the older generation, the folks who are fully retired and vested in SocSec, Medicare, pensions, and all that, have come to view all those benefits as not just governmental entitlements but MORAL entitlements as well - in other words, they think they deserve these emoluments. And now that we're in the middle of health care reform, and may still be at the end of the year, the old folks will bitch and moan a blue streak if anyone tries to deny them one thin dime of their due as they see it.

If you don't think this is true, you just hide and watch about Dec. 15, when the government finally can't hide this any longer, and has to tell people about it (again, since the news has already been put out, if quietly.) The Democrats will be held responsible for it, and AARP and all the other advocacy groups for the elderly will behave as if the 8 years of GWB never happened, and it seems likely that the only way out of the mess will be for the COLA to be reinstated after all, costing the government several billions more than it anticipated.

There'll be no mention of mutual sacrifice, or if there is it will be ignored by the Auld Folks, and the deficit will get bigger and bigger (even more so because the numbers were crunched without the COLA), and even if the COLA is reinstated, the Dems will suffer for it at the ballot box next November. Perhaps enough to turn one or more houses of Congress over to the forces of evil, AKA the repugs.

Which brings me to another point: the American people in general have become a bunch of selfish pig bastards. 60 or 70 years ago, Americans really were a generous nation. We really did care about the rest of the world, and from thence came our reputation worldwide that so many of us still believe we merit today. There are many Americans who do indeed care about others - but as a nation, we have become insufferable. And the rest of the world knows it. And regrets it as much as we do, or should.

Nuff said. Comment if you dare.