Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Take it easy, Senator

Yesterday, John Edwards said "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again".
And brussels sprouts will taste like Pop Rocks, puppies will be even cuter, and the scourge of athletes foot will be a thing of the past!
Criminy! I understand that at the end of campaigns the rhetoric and promises heat up, but let's not get crazy.
I support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, but the operative word is "research". John Kerry is a senator, not the messiah. I hope he wins, but I don't expect the lame to be healed immediately upon his inauguration.

***For the Onion's take on Edwards' hilarity, check this out.***

By the way-

If you want to help in the fight against the erosion of the wall between the things of Caesar and the things of God, please join and support Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I have.

How far we've come...

1960. Ike was finishing off his presidency, Sputnik scared the crap out of the west, the US sent her first boys into Vietnam, and John F. Kennedy had to refute assertions that he would be a papal stooge in the oval office. He was apparently convincing enough to win the election.
I've always viewed the moment when the electorate saw beyond the old canards about all Catholics taking dictation from Rome and elected Kennedy to the highest office in the land as a landmark for the republic as well as American catholicism. Now Catholic bishops in Colorado and several other states are working as hard as they can to turn back the clock:
For Archbishop Charles Chaput, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic in Colorado, there is only one way for a faithful Catholic to vote in this presidential election. Without naming names, he makes it clear: for George W. Bush and against John Kerry.

Earlier this year, Catholic Bishops said they would deny John Kerry, a Catholic, communion because of his view that abortion should remain legal.
So much for the old "Rome not trying to have a Catholic puppet in the White House" business, eh?
The super slick thing here is that these organizations enjoy 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. That's right, you're paying for their partisan advocacy. Oh, sure they manage to avoid saying anything as clear as "vote for Bush or burn", but they make it real clear. They may as well call it a sin to vote for anyone whose middle initial isn't "W". I harbor no naive notions that theses dioceses will be investigated by the IRS, but they should.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Another monster safely off the streets

The brave, heroic drug warriors in Washington DC really have something to be proud of this week. Jonathan Magbie, a quadriplegic man serving a ten day jail sentence for a first-time marijuana possession conviction, died in a DC jail last week.
Despite recommendations of probation that weren't challenged by the prosecution, the ever so appropriately named Judge Retchin sentenced him to 10 days in jail. Her rationale for the harsh sentence was that there was a gun in the car Mr. Magbie was riding in when he was caught with the pot (note the word riding, as opposed to driving). "It is just unacceptable to be riding around in a car with a loaded gun in this city", she said. Who's the last quadriplegic you remember having gone on a shooting spree, your honor? I do understand the impulse to punish those caught with guns or hanging around with people with guns, but the man can't scratch his own nose, much less aim and fire a gun.
So this guy goes to jail, where he quite predictably gets substandard medical care. Being someone for whom substandard medical care=death, he dies.
Lots of kudos to go around on this one:
I'd like to thank Judge Retchin for having the compassion to put a quadriplegic man who smoked pot to ease his pain in jail for simple possession.
I'd like to thank our brave leaders in congress, past and present, for criminalizing pot possession, for medical and recreational use.
I'd like to thank the zealots at the Office of National Drug Control Policy for helping create and maintain a political climate conducive to the creation of the terrible policies that put Mr. Magbie behind bars.
And finally I'd like to thank the incompetent functionaries in the DC jails who shuffled a very sick man (and the buck) back and forth, until he died.
Thanks for proving anew how terrible an idea this drug war is in both theory and practice.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The VP debate-

No clear winner, it would seem. Where some, like Andrew Sullivan saw a listless, work-weary Cheney, I saw calm confidence. His demeanor seemed to say "I am your better *yawn*". Edwards was relentlessly on-message and is clearly a good communicator. But He floundered at times and missed some golden opportunities. For instance, when Cheney impugned Kerry's vote on the original Gulf War, Edwards should have thrown this quote from '92 in his face:
And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq... All of a sudden you've got a battle you're fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques. Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq

(link via Sullivan)
So Edwards missed that big one, but did manage to avoid any major gaffes. He also looked much more like he was speaking to us instead of glaring at Gwen Ifill, like Cheney.
Head to Atrios for evidence of one clear, stupid, but ultimately inconsequential Cheney lie. I guess that depends on what your meaning of "met" is Mr. Vice President (ahem).
I thought him waving off further comment on the Federal Marriage Amendment was classy. It was wise to just stick to the line of "I don't necessarily agree but the President sets policy and it's my job to have his back". The more conspiratorial among us might say that this and Cheney's public disavowal of the amendment a few weeks ago are merely attempts to put to rest the argument that Cheney's the President's puppet master. I don't know-you decide.
All in all, pretty even, I think.
Just go to Andrew Sullivan, instapundit, dailykos, TPM, Polipundit, and any of the cable yap-shows to see the widely diverging opinions about who massacred whom and whose pants are more blazingly on fire. Forget instant polls, you can see it was a draw from a quick skip around these various opinion outlets. It's like a boxing match with one judge calling X the victor twelve rounds to none, another calling Y the victor by the same margin, and the other calling it a draw.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

From the Republicans against Bush file...

Andrew Sullivan links today to a sharp piece by Marshall Wittmann, former aide to John McCain and self-described "bull moose".
***Just as an aside, can I take a moment to mention just how much I hate it when people wrap themselves in the mantle of long-gone political movements, like the Bull Moose party? I hate it a lot, thanks.***
Silly nomenclature aside, the article is a razor-sharp critique of the Bush administration from the right. Here is a particularly stinging section:
Everything could have changed in the aftermath of 9/11. For a while it appeared that it had. Bush displayed moral clarity and leadership worthy of national greatness. However, it was short-lived. It turned out that Bush would be more of a Tom DeLay than a Winston Churchill. On the domestic political front, there was a brief interregnum of national unity. Bush rhetorically sought to bring together the nation in the fight against the terrorist enemy. However, it was soon clear that no political imagination would be employed to forge a new politics. Rather than challenging Americans to enlist in national service, the administration told them to "go shopping." Rather than asking more of those who have more, the administration refused to explore a progressive way to finance the war against terror. In fact, before long, the president returned to his mantra of permanent elimination of the "death tax." Yes, Virginia, there is a war going on, but the donors must be reimbursed! (Emphasis added)

Mr Wittmann, clearly a fan of historical allusions, makes an important point: This administration has never acted like they were fiscally serious about the military task at hand. They have neither made nor asked for any of the sacrifices necessary in a vital war effort. If you agree with the efforts in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, it's damn near impossible to justify the exploding domestic spending and massive tax cuts undertaken by this administration while these missions are underway. I can almost understand someone who disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq, as I did, saying "screw it-spend the money at home". But I can't understand those who engineered the invasion doing nothing to save the money necessary to do it right. It doesn't make any sense even within their own rationale.
I'm not saying they should have instituted pantyhose and gasoline rations, but maybe forgoing another round of tax cuts to better finance "the inescapable calling of our generation" would have been a good idea.
9/11 may have been a Pearl Harbor for our time-it's a shame Bush is no FDR.