The Angry Cyclist

A fleeting grasp of civil, well reasoned discourse.
This blog will comment on topics of interest like politics, business, taxation, the War with Islam / Islamofascists, road cycling, football, and others.


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Thursday, June 17, 2004
 
We Surrender

I cannot fucking believe this announcement. This post will embody my first ever e-mail to president@whitehouse.gov. I have an apparently quaint notion of wanting to win a war rather than losing it. Based on the fact that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia (in percentage terms, based on this single event, that's 78.947%), there's a strong probability that a male from Saudi Arabia will commit the next act of terrorism in the United States and yes, he will be a 'devout Muslim' and will have attended a terrorist training camp.

And yes, I am beginning to doubt whether I'll vote for GWB in November. One caveat: GWB may be showing us one deck and playing with another. It wouldn't be the first time.

Special checks on Muslims at border to end


Why?

Washington, DC, Jun. 13 (UPI) -- The Bush administration has pledged to stop special security checks imposed on adult males entering the United States from mainly Muslim countries.


Given the above discussion, I have to say this is world-class stupidity. The probabilities are overwhelming that only a dishonest or cowed person would make that argument, and on a political basis you've just given Decorated Vietnam VeteranTM an opening from the right to criticize the Bush administration.

Those targeted are mostly from countries considered a risk for terrorism.


Which, as previously discussed, leaves Saudi Arabia at the top of the list. Throw in other obvious candidates like Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Egypt and I believe there's a politically incorrect pattern brewing.

"Our long term goal", senior homeland security official Asa Hutchinson told Arab civil rights leaders Friday, "is to treat (all visitors) the same way, and not based on where you come from."


There is no way paragraph 1 squares with paragraph 2. It's impossible to treat everyone 'equally' when immigrants or illegals (sorry, 'undocumented workers', is that better?) enter our borders and a significant number of potential terrorists arrive from at least five countries in one manner or another. Is there no logic in 'profiling' or are we now admitting we're basically castrating ourselves in order to 'win hearts and minds', the best current translation for appeasement?

Hutchinson also distinguished the approach of the Department of Homeland Security from that of other parts of the administration, notably Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Department, United Press International reported.

Under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System or NSEERS, introduced in November 2002, male visa-holders coming to the United States from any one of 25 listed nations have had to undergo special screening, including being fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed at ports of entry.


Good, at least someone takes this shit seriously. I'd also call for DNA samples and biometric scans as well, but the ACLU would soon crank up their war machine, complete with charges of "RACISM!!!" flying through the air like bullets at an Iraqi wedding and other self-defeating measures rapidly deployed by a compliant, and defeatist, press.

The countries include Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran. Apart from North Korea, they are all majority-Muslim nations.


Heh. Wasn't that far off the mark in the Jihad Country assessment. And remember, Libya is a country that's now playing ball with us because Gaddafi's still shitting himself from Reagan's 'drive-by'. What should that tell you?


Wednesday, June 16, 2004
 
It's Bush's Fault, CXXVI

Bob Kuttner finds no problem too big or small to blame on the Bush administration or propose yet another federal entitlement program to solve it.

America's hidden issue of poverty

By Robert Kuttner | June 16, 2004

WBUR, Boston's fine public radio station, has been flogging this promotion: 16 million poor kids, through federal aid, get nutritious breakfasts and lunches throughout the school year. But now it's summer, and school's out. So send WBUR a hundred bucks, and $25 of it will go to a local food bank that feeds kids while the federal money shuts down.


May I be so impolite as to ask what happens with the other $75? Will it go to cover 'administrative expenses' of WBUR's directors?

Does this strike you as just a little off? By all means, send WBUR a check.

You first.
But shouldn't the news staff, as opposed to the development staff, be running with this story? What Scrooge forgot that kids eat in the summer? Where is the Bush administration on this? Why are there so many hungry children, anyway?


Maybe because their parents cannot or will not provide for them? It strikes me as a bit unsettling that Kuttner can so blithely ascribe the blame on this to Bush when it ought to be the parents who have to fulfill this obligation. Unsurprisingly, that subject is not raised by Kuttner.

By making this appeal part of its fund-raising pitch, complete with heart-rending interviews with adorable kids,

'Cuz it's All About The ChildrenTM...
WBUR subtly buys into the premise that these children require charity rather than massive new federal spending decent public policy anchored in a robust politics. It adds to the depoliticizing of issues that should be part of politics.


No, Bob, what you're trying to do is politicize the issue by making these kids / children into your political pawns in order to justify another mouth on the public nipple. Enough already, let's hear some real arguments, shall we?

And that's the larger story of our dwindling democracy. This election year, once again, issues of social class are pretty much off the table.


No free breakfasts / lunches = dwindling democracy. Sounds more like whining, Bob. At least try to convince someone!

The great hidden issue in America is the scandal that tens of millions of Americans who work full time -- often more than full time -- barely get by and can't get ahead, while CEOs get zillions. The blue-collar middle class jobs are vanishing; what's taking their place are retail and service jobs that top out at $10 an hour or less. You can't live decently on that.


Changing the subject, yet another classic leftist debating technique. What's next?

For chapter and verse, read Barbara Ehrenreich's modern classic, "Nickeled and Dimed." She recounts trying to survive on take-home pay of about $1,200 a month when rent consumes $800. It can't be done. Many of her co-workers, clinging to middle-class work ethic values, live in their cars.


With this argument I am not convinced, nor am I persuaded by her tales of woe and misery. There are two assumptions made by the author which contribute to this defeatist mindset - that you'll always be in these dead-end jobs (i.e., you have no ambition or intelligence, or a plan) and that Ehrenreich, paying $800 per month in rent, does not appear to have a roommate, which of course contributes mightily to her short-lived economic misery. Get a roommate and she doesn't write the book. Convenient to leave that one out, isn't it?

Bernie Sanders, the lefty Vermont congressman (apologies for the redundancy - Ed.), recently told me something interesting. He gets a lot of his votes not from the Birkenstock crowd but from lower income, blue-collar men -- the very voters many Democrats consider hopelessly lost to NASCAR, Limbaugh, flag-waving, and fundamentalism.


In Vermont? Bwwwaahahahaha!

Why do they support a militant like Sanders? Because he engages their pocketbook issues -- fighting for ground rules that enable working people to make a decent living, get good health care, and live in affordable housing. "I'm not a liberal," says Sanders. "I'm a progressive."


There's a difference? Nice try, Bernie.

Progressive politics is not about charity and soup kitchens. It's about big government power, and putting issues considered almost unspeakable in polite company back into the national conversation.


And this has to do with free breakfasts and lunches in what way?

The people Barbara Ehrenreich interviewed for "Nickeled and Dimed" have pretty much given up on politics -- because politics has given up on them. Few big-league politicians are talking about subjects that could make a real difference in their lives, like maybe a $12 minimum wage or universal health insurance.


Yup, raise the minimum wage and put people out of work in addition to universal health insurance that's worked so well in Canada you have to wait months for medical procedures. It's amazing that Kuttner can be so stunningly wrong about these matters yet continue to offer the same failed solutions over and over again as gospel.

The bipartisan elite has convinced itself that the main challenge for the next generation is reducing the federal deficit. That's what passes for courage in Beltway Washington, as it has for two decades. No wonder voters are tuning out.


I think the main challenge for this generation is eradicating the threat of extremist Islamism. It figures Kuttner can avoid the bloody obvious priority of our government so he can advocate his socialist wet dream.

Let me amend that. Potentially progressive voters like those Sanders supporters tune out. Wall Street voters are entirely tuned in, to an insider debate between those who would cut taxes and not worry about deficits (Bush) and those who would cut deficits and give up on all but token social investment (the fiscal conservatives advising Kerry). Some debate.

Lately, Washington sages have been promoting a new and entirely misleading conceit about what ails American politics -- polarization: Pundit John Tierney wrote, "It's not voters but the political elite of both parties who have become more narrow minded and polarized." Columnist David Brooks sniffed, "You can't understand the current bitter polarization without appreciating how it is inflamed or even driven by the civil war within the educated class."


The 2000 election, close as it was, kind of shoots those theories down, doesn't it?

To read these guys, you'd think Republican leaders were charging to the right and Democrats to the left. But the Democratic Party has become steadily more centrist, especially on pocketbook issues, as the GOP has become more radical. By making the problem seem like a symmetrical polarization, these right-wing pundits give a free pass to both Bush's plain extremism and the Democrats' capture.


What a crock of shit. Did anyone catch Al Gore's speech a few weeks ago, foaming at the mouth, or Kerry's voting record, regarded as more liberal than Ted Kennedy's? And since when does George Bush teaming up with Ted Freakin' Kennedy on the No Child Left Behind Act, or huge steel tariffs, or the illegal alien amnesty program, qualify as 'more radical'?

A vibrant politics has to be about making sure that capitalism gives ordinary people a fair shake.


'fair' = government intervention. See Wage, minimum, etc.

Otherwise regular people turn to spectacle rather than democracy, politics becomes a sport for the elite, and the best we can hope for is charity.


Speaking of charity, Bob, did you pony up that $100 to WBUR?

So the problem, with all due respect to WBUR, isn't that school is out. It's that class is out.


Communism's out as well. Or at least it's still on life support at 135 Morrissey Boulevard.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.