Archive for October, 2010

I am, to put it lightly, pissed off right now. If there is a greater example than the request that the Obama Administration made of the Supreme Court on October, 18 2010 of how the “Change!” that Obama promised he represented was a lie I would like to see it. “Change” is not covering the ass of the powerful and the political class.

A little history about why I’m pissed first.

Sami al-Hussayen was a graduate student in computer science who volunteered his time as a webmaster for a legal Islamic charity. He was arrested on charges that he gave incorrect information on his immigration forms. The government under the Bush Administration then tired to convict him on charges of terrorism. He was acquitted based on the fact that the Ashcroft Justice Department had no proof of terrorist activities.

While this was going on the Ashcroft Justice Department picked up a young man, Abdullah al-Kidd, in March 2003 at Dulles International Airport. al-Kidd was an American citizen, he was once even a star running back at the University of Idaho, who converted to Islam and who was picked up on a “material witness” warrant as he was about to fly to Saudi Arabia. The claim forming the bases of this was that he could give testimony, supposedly vitally needed testimony, in the al-Hussayen case.

Unfortunately, that was about the only thing that was even half true about what was said by the Federal Agents who obtained the warrant. al-Kidd’s arrest warrant was partly based on misrepresentations and omissions of the facts.

Federal agents claimed that he was about to fly to Saudi Arabia on a one-way first-class ticket. This was a lie. He had a roundtrip ticket that was for a seat in the coach section. When giving the information required for obtaining their warrant, agents neglected to mention that al-Kidd was an American citizen (as were his parents, his wife, and his two children) and that he had previously, willingly and fully cooperated with the FBI when its agents wanted to interview him.

al-Kidd was then detained in high security cells for a little over two weeks where he was subjected to multiple strip searches, sometimes kept naked and sometimes shackled at the hands and feet. After he was finally released from custody he was placed on a strictly supervised probation for some fifteen months.

He was never charged with a crime. He was never called on to appear as a material witness in the al-Hussayan case. By the time he was finally freed, his marriage had broken up and he’d lost his job.

So, to give you the short version of this mess, our government, the government of the United States of America, arrested and imprisoned one man (al-Hussayen) on questionable charges that it could not prove. They then compounded this folly by arresting and detaining another man (al-Kidd) on the pretext that his testimony was required in the case against the first man and more or less destroyed his life as he knew it.

al-Kidd then did what just about any other American might do. He got some lawyers, got some legal help and sued.

The Bush Administration tried to prevent this. They claimed, amongst other things, that actions of the Attorney General were immune to prosecution for wrong doings not just while he or she is serving but also after they have stepped down. Their position was, essentially, that the actions of the Attorney General were beyond legal redress. The main argument of their claim wasn’t even that they did nothing wrong, they simply said that no one should be able to take the AG to court; ever; period.

I thought that this was outrageous at the time. Here was an Administration and a Justice Department that had been engaging in systemic and insane illegalities in the name of “freedom” (http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0306/index.htm) and now they were trying to rig the system in their favor to cover their asses. Now they were trying to claim that they could do whatever they pleased and if they stepped on and destroyed the lives of “the little people” in America then Americans had no legal recourse.

Finally, on September 4, 2009, a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that John Ashcroft could be held liable for the unconstitutional arrest and treatment of Abdullah al-Kidd. It should be noted that the Court did not rule on the merits of al-Kidd’s constitutional claim. This was a procedural ruling only that rejected Ashcroft’s claims of immunity and declared that the lawsuit against him could go forward. After a long fight it seemed that al-Kidd might finally have his chance to prove his claims and get justice for what was done to him.

Not so fast…

On October 18, 2010 the Obama Administration and the Holder Justice Department challenged this ruling. They went to and requested that the Supreme Court review the ruling that took away former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s immunity in this lawsuit. A part of their rationale for this is that they apparently also feel that an Attorney General should have this type of perpetual immunity.

Anyone who cares at all about what this country stands for and the principles it was supposedly founded on should be outraged by this. Our Founding Fathers knew what life in countries under a monarchy, under a true ruling class, was like. They knew that in a system like that there was injustice for “the little people” who weren’t in the ruling class or wealthy enough to be favored by the ruling class. They knew that a system like that far too often lead to dictators and dictatorships.

Too many things that the Bush Administration did smacked of the kind of thinking that the Founding Fathers found distasteful in countries long ruled by monarchies. Chief amongst those things was the thinking that no one in the Bush Administration, the ruling class, should be held legally accountable for wrong doings. Immunity should be bestowed upon any of them and where it couldn’t be given the wave of the Presidential pen would see to it that you didn’t have to serve your time. After all, just the indignity of having been tried and sentenced was more than enough hardship for the Ruling Class.

But then they left and the next President wasn’t a Republican. They left and supposedly the incoming Administration was going to fix a few things in DC.

Now, I never bought the whole idea of Obama being a new kind of politician. I cautioned some people I knew that they shouldn’t buy the “Change!” hype since most of Obama’s change looked in the details pretty much like every other Democrats details and a lot like his then chief rival for the nomination Hillary’s details. But I at least expected a change in matters like this.

The Obama Administration has chosen to act like the “Ruling Class” every bit as much as the Bush Administration before them. They have chosen to take the position, to take the side of the idea saying, that you cannot even seek to legally have wrongdoings by the elite ruling class redressed in our court system. They are taking not the position that al-Kidd has no case, but rather they are taking the position that al-Kidd, and by extension you and me, have no right whatsoever to have a wrong against us corrected and have justice served if the wrong is done, even with knowledge that the act being done is wrong, by the new ruling class.

It doesn’t even matter what the Supreme Court rules here insofar as Obama’s stupidity here. It would be a travesty if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ashcroft here, but even if they rule in favor of al-Kidd it lessens not one bit the incredible arrogance on display here as well as the level of disdain for the common man.

Obama and his Justice Department have, just by requesting this action, already said that we don’t matter because we’re not wealthy enough or powerful enough to matter and that when the ruling class knowingly abuses their power and abuses us with it we should just take it, shut up and go away.

Much in the same way I’m now very much hoping to see Obama go away in two years’ time.

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MSNBC: Lean Forward… Or Not.

Posted: October 17, 2010 in News, Politics

My friend Bill Mulligan has pointed out on more than one occasion that the real talent in political advertising and whatnot is no longer in the ranks of the Professional Politicos but rather in the rank and file bloggers  out there as more often than not he sees much more intelligently laid out plans and ideas expressed on the fly by some bloggers than he sees in action on the national stage. Can’t say that I disagree with him most of the time either.

Well, I don’t know if the ranks of the blogging community are also loaded with teams of brilliant ad men, but they can’t be worse than MSNBC’s paid staff. MSNBC, in its constant strive to re-brand itself in some way, shape or form, has gone from being the self professed fastest growing news network to the place for politics in the last few years.  Neither one of those really worked too well as catch phrases so they’ve gone to the well one more time and come up with…

Lean Forward!

No, really, that’s it.

Lean Forward, MSNBC? Lean Forward?!? That’s the best that you could come up with?

Seriously MSNBC, if this is the best that your people can come up with you need to give them a swift kick in the pants just before the door hits them in the @$$ on their way out. It’s bad enough that you only barely qualify as a news network as it is, but, jeez,  are you actually trying to get people to laugh at you? If so- Mission accomplished.

Mike Huckabee: Classless Idiot.

Posted: October 8, 2010 in Life, Politics

This is a little late, but I really only saw Huckabee’s full speech from last month’s Values Voter Summit up in DC in the last few days. But the nice thing about a display of towering ignorance like that of Huckabee’s is that the passing of time does nothing to diminish the ignorance and callousness that Mike Huckabee decided he was going to use for his applause line/joke nor the ignorance and callousness of the cheering dolts at the Values Voter Summit.

It seems Huckabee is against the idea of people with a pre-existing condition being able to get health insurance. He points out that, yeah, a lot of people out there actually like that part of the Obama healthcare reforms, but those people are wrong. Here are dear Mikey’s words from his speech.

“Suppose we applied that principle that you can just come along with whatever condition you have and we’re gonna cover you at the same cost we’re covering everybody else ’cause we wanna be fair. Okay, fine. Then let’s do that with our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, ‘I’d like to buy some insurance for my house.’ He’d say, ‘Tell me about your house.’ ‘Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I’d like to insure it today.’ And he’ll say ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t insure it after it’s already burned.’ Well, no preexisting conditions.

“How would you like to be able to call your insurance agent for your car and say ‘I want you to insure my car.’ ‘Well tell me about your car.’ ‘Well it was a pretty nice vehicle until my sixteen year-old boy wrecked it yesterday. [He] totaled the thing out but I’d like to get it insurance so we can get it replaced.’ Now how much would a policy cost if it covered everything? About as much as it’s gonna cost for health care in this country.”

Before we discuss what a callous, uncaring ass this man is; let’s discuss what an ignorant fool he is and what ignorant tools anyone who applauded this or thought it was in any way intelligent is. His analogy, if one applies the staggering effort of about two seconds of thought to it, fails on every level.

His analogy for a person with a pre-existing condition getting health insurance coverage is to compare a human being to a house or a car; a house that’s burned to the ground and a car that’s been totaled. Hey, Mikey, do you know why you’re an idiot for making that analogy? Let me tell you why.

You’re talking about getting insurance after the fact for a car and a house that have been destroyed so that the owners can get new ones. Starting to figure it out on your own yet, Mikey? If the car and the house are so far gone that they have to be completely replaced with new ones then the originals are, for all intents and purposes, dead. For the sorry excuse you have for wit and wisdom to be even close to workable we would have to be letting people insure the dead after they die.

But I’m sure some of the Huckabee defenders out there are saying it works even if it’s not that extreme. I’m sure you’re about to point out that the car and the house wouldn’t have to be totaled for his analogy to work. Well, I’m here to tell you that, to a degree, your auto insurance and homeowner’s insurance does take on pre-existing conditions.

If you buy a used car you buy a car with pre-existing wear and tear and a history of breakdowns and repairs. Buy a used car with 85,000 miles on it that’s never blown out its transmission and the odds are pretty good that you’re looking at a guaranteed major breakdown sometime down the road. Should your transmission blow out at the wrong moment and an accident results the insurance company will still cover the costs for the accident. They don’t point out that your transmission had pre-existing wear and tear so they’re off the hook.

If you buy a house and you’re not the first owners then it has pre-existing conditions. If the water pipe blows and you come home from work to find that all of the things in your living room are now floating in your new pool the insurance company doesn’t point out the fact that the pipes had been weakening and rusting in that spot for years now and they won’t cover you because of the pre-existing condition.

So, yeah, they kinda do cover pre-existing conditions. Plus, beyond that, a human being isn’t an inanimate object. Apparently the key difference between Huckabee and people with a functioning brain and soul is that he doesn’t quite understand that concept.

Now let me give you the personal reason why I think this guy is a classless, callous idiot. My wife has a pre-existing condition. When she was a younger she was out with her family in the family car and someone rear ended their car. Something in the car struck my wife hard in the back of the head and the damage that the impact did caused her to develop a seizure disorder. This then later qualified as a pre-existing condition and she could not get insurance coverage.

But the thing is that my wife managed the condition quite well. When we first met she hadn’t had a seizure in over ten years. She took her medication, she did what the doctors told her to do and she avoided the types of things that could trigger a seizure. She had it under control. But she still could not get health insurance to cover the things not related to her condition that all of us with coverage take for granted.

In all the years that she had no insurance coverage she had to think twice and sometimes three times about basic health issues that you and I take for granted. If you or I are sick with the flu or some other bad bug we have the luxury of heading down the street to the doctor’s office and getting checked out and getting the medication we need for a co-pay that’s usually no more than $40 or $50 dollars. Someone with a pre-existing condition would have to decide if they can even afford to go to the doctor at all.

And they certainly dread the idea of  anything really serious happening to them even more than you or I do because, even if it’s not related to their pre-existing condition, they can’t get covered and they could be on the hook for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

And even necessary health needs can get put off because people simply cannot afford them. My wife and I ended up getting legally married quite a few months before we had the ceremony for everyone else to attend because of exactly this thing. My wife had put off a number of things that she desperately needed addressing for a while because she could not afford the thousands upon thousands of dollars it would have cost her. We got legally wed early so that she could get on my insurance as my spouse and get these things addressed. Had she not met me when she did or had we not gotten married she would have very likely begun to have serious issues with her health and no way to deal with everything that needed to be done.

And, again, she was hardly alone in this situation. But the fact that real people are really suffering out there doesn’t matter to Huckabee one wit when he needs to throw people like that into the gutter for the chance for a little political gain. Mike Huckabee’s worldview in moments like that is one shared by many in his party. It’s explained as simply and easily as, “I’ve got mine and screw you.”

In Mike Huckabee’s world, he would happily let others suffer while he goes to stand in front of a bunch of fellow “values” people at events like the Value Voters Summit and crack jokes about their suffering to the applause of these drooling idiots. Huckabee is classless, callous, uncaring and deserving of nothing less than to become the irrelevant party hack he’s working so hard at making himself out to be.

How Obama Failed

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Politics

There’s a certain humorous irony in watching a man who promoted his work as a community organizer show a complete inability to properly organize his priorities. But this is exactly what Obama did and it’s now costing him and his party big time.

Obama was elected in the middle of the biggest economic meltdown our country had seen in almost a century. The looming crisis was seen as so dire that almost every politician on both sides of the isle were calling for government intervention of some sort and the first economic stimulus bill was signed off on by a Republican POTUS. Businesses were closing, banks and major manufacturing companies were teetering on the edge of collapse and jobs were being lost at an alarming rate with the dark promise of many more job loses to come in the following year.

So, of course, the biggest issue that Obama felt he had to make Job #1 and his signature issue in his first year plus was… healthcare.

Sure, he had people working on the stimulus bills while he was going on the offensive on the healthcare front, but his work on healthcare was and is seen as his big issue. That was the issue he promoted the most. That was the issue he had big buzz meetings and debates with both Republicans and Democrats about. That was the issue he did far more promoting of than he did on his economic responsibilities.

Make no mistake, he did do some good insofar as the economy. We were in a hard free fall and even a number of the experts on the Right who are now attacking the stimulus for 2010 political gains were calling for action by the government and even talking up the positive nature of the things they turned around and attacked the day after Obama was sworn in. What has been done by this administration has likely lessened the severity of the economic depression we are still in now.

But the two major problems for Obama and the Democrats with the economic situation we’re now in are (1) that you can’t really claim success in bad times even if you had them and (2) that even positive measures will take at least another two years to begin to really make a massive turnaround happen. To explain that a bit in more detail-

(1) Things suck right now. People feel like nothing that has been done is working and they look at the jobless rate, the manufacturing sector trembling and the private sector’s crumbling and see never ending gloom and doom. It’s not something you can boast about as a success. The thing is, it may well be a success.

We will never know what would have happened if the stimulus bills had not been passed. We will never know how bad the recession may have gotten without the steps taken by the government and we may never know if the steps taken actually did absolutely nothing. We can point to successes like GM and some recent gains in the manufacturing sector, but we’re really only discussing probabilities when talking about where we are VS where we might have been. That’s a hard sell as a positive in an election.

2) It took a long time to create this mess. The crash our country was going through was huge. Turning this thing around, hell, for that matter just slowing the free fall down, was not going to be a snap of the fingers and wave of the magic wand type of thing. We’re looking at a situation where even if everything was done right we’re going to see another two or three years of this recession before any better times really start to get going. Again, that’s a hard sell during an election year.

So, of course, President Priorities made it an even harder sell by making healthcare the thing that everyone saw as his primary focus in his first year.

We lost jobs while we watched politicians debating healthcare. Businesses crumbled while we watched arguments about end of life care. People lost their homes while we watched the President and the Democrat’s Congressional leaders talking about medical bills.

That’s what sticks out in people’s minds the most about Obama’s first year and a half in office. Sure, he talked about and worked on economic issues, but his big fight was healthcare. The perception to many is that he fiddled while Rome burned down around him. Oh, and he created a massive government program when he did this that his opponents can and do claim adds to the deficit and to the poor economic situation by harming some free market sectors.

And the kicker is that he got his win, he got his healthcare bill passed, and no one wants to run on it. Even in the parts of the country where healthcare polls well you have Democrats so sure that it’s a losing issue that they’re treating it like a radioactive substance. The upshot of this is that they don’t have anything to run on in races where the Republicans are running campaigns where the big weapon they pull out is that the incumbent Democrat (or even Republican) voted with Obama for healthcare and the stimulus bills. It’s so bad you even have some Democrats attacking Obama and/or ObamaCare in their own campaign.

So why is this a matter of poorly organized priorities? Because Obama should have focused the lion’s share of his efforts and attention on the economy and kept healthcare as an issue for down the road.

The economy should have been Job #1 and Focus #1 for Obama and the Democrats from day one. We would still be in a less than great economic situation, but a few things would very likely be different right now.

One thing that would hopefully be different would be that Congress, without the large fights and distractions of the healthcare battle, might have done a better job on the economy. We might have seen better targeted stimulus funds and we might have seen better control over some of the money that went though the cracks and the loopholes to end up in scams and schemes. We would still be hurting, but maybe not as much as we are right now.

There would also be a perception difference. The tooth and nail fights we may have been watching would have been for economic factors. The overriding memory of Obama’s first year and a half of would be a POTUS fighting for economic matters. The thing that people would remember would be an Obama fighting for the betterment of the lower and middle class American’s economic situation and not debating whether or not he wanted to pull the plug on grandma.

There have been some positive economic signs in the last few months. There could have been more and they could have actually been something that Democrats could have run on. But the President picked the wrong priority. He made the wrong bet and it may well have backfired. He has nothing to show for his first year and a half in office that anybody but the most far Left are truly happy about and the majority in Congress that he needs to have may be threatened because they either can’t or simply won’t run on the only real success their side has to point to.

This is a perfect example of what many discussed as his inexperience as a politician and as a public servant. He chose to fight for something that was far more popular with his base than with the population as a whole and was left holding an empty bag and left with a party facing a tough election with even less. He picked a cause that would make only his most rabid base and most Left leaning advisers truly happy while the biggest issue that most people were most worried about was, in the minds of many now, neglected by him as he pursued this cause.

And this truly wasn’t an either or matter. He could have fought his A-Game for the issue that the vast majority of Americans were far more concerned with and come out in a much better place for it than he and his party currently find themselves in. He could have found some success, or at least a record of fighting for the right issue, for himself and his party to run on in 2010 and 2012. He could have worked to improve the economic situation and then tried to build on that with his healthcare issues. Maybe the nation would have been more accepting of the idea if it was in a fiscal recovery rather than a fiscal crash.

This poor choice of priorities has also shown another failing in Obama that time and experience usually (but not always) helps to fix in a politician. He has a very thin skin. It also gets thinner the worse things are going for him. We’ve gotten to see of late a snippy Obama who criticizes his media critics, even the ones who usually support him, for complaining about or criticizing him on his policies. He has shown an attitude of almost a “how dare you question me” mindset from time to time when the public face he wears slips a bit.

He’s made this mess he is in so much worse than it would have been and pretty much did so just by his own choices and actions. He’s also let slip into his public persona a glimpse at an attitude that does not give one hope that behind closed doors he is open to advice from his advisers that is critical but needed to begin to get us and him out of this mess sooner rather than later. Obama has made his party weaker than they could have been and Obama has made his Presidency weaker than it could have been.

Obama’s greatest enemy is not the Republican minority or the Tea Party; it’s his own inexperience and failings. Unless he suddenly matures and wises up in the near future he is in for a rough two years on his way to the end of his single term and the history books will look as unkindly on him and his years as they now look at Carter and his time in office and the only person that Obama will be able blame for this is Obama himself.