Saturday, October 28, 2006

Do The Republicans Deserve an "Easy" Vote?

“All politics is local;” except when it isn’t. This year it isn’t. In this off-year election, no less than a re-affirmation of the principles of the U.S. Constitution is demanded. The Republican party’s participation in weakening some of our basic principles demand that we think carefully about voting to return to Congress a representative who will “organize” with the Republican leadership.

The most egregious attack on the erosion of the Bill of Rights lies in the willingness of the Republicans to erode habeas corpus.

The Bill of Rights is further eroded by the Republican administration’s attempt to lessen our right to privacy.

The balance of power demanded by the Constitution is eroded by the Republican rubber-stamp congress of the past 5 years.

The Republican redefinition of what is allowable evidence in a trial as well as virtually secret trials has opened the door to a near-cousin of the loathsome Star Chamber which the writers of the Constitution knew and feared too well.

Forget selling one’s soul for a tax cut; maybe we should refuse to sell our Constitutional rights for a local road project or national parks and monuments.

This year we must give serious consideration to voting for the Constitution, and the Democratic party’s nominee to Congress.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Change of Pace

For an amusing bit of self-deprecatory admission, check out this plant lover's blog.

She raises some interesting points, i.e., how much water is too much water or too little water?

Alas, no one seems to know.

R.I.P., pretty flower with the unpronouncable name.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Predator? Prey?

At some point, we might want to revisit the language used to describe those among us who find others sexually interesting. To write that Mr. Foley is/was a predator is a bit strong, disingenuous, and, possibly, dangerous.

Everyone I know responds positively to the presence of a reminder of the exuberance and vitality of youth.

Everyone I know, to greater or lesser degrees, seeks to recapture his or her own youthful exuberance and vitality.

Everyone I know, to greater or lesser degrees, avoids making young people uncomfortable as we observe and celebrate their youth and all the wonderful things about being a youth.

Everyone I know sends out "signals" to others indicating an "interest," and, depending on the response, we either pursue or drop the matter.

Are we all, then, predators? Are you, then, at 16 or 60, prey?

By using predator and prey in discussions about relationships with 16-year-olds, we befuddle the discussion about those who seek sexual contact with pre-pubescent children, which is where the real dangers lie.

The language we are using now casts too broad a net to be accurate. At some point we should try to develop a more appropriate metaphor.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Partisan? Non-partisan? Slip-up? Deliberate?

The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James E. Baker (of Bush I fame), is back in the news via an article in the New York Times today. A reminder, this Group was formed last spring, as a bipartisan group, to reassess "strategy" for Mr. Bush. The group, in order not to influence the election debate, will release its report in early 2007, and members are attempting to come up with a consensus report.

That's good, on the face of it. However, the NYT story contains a troubling comment from Mr. Baker: "I think it's fair to say our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run.'"

That's also good, except there is a teensy partisan problem in this "bipartisan" effort's co-chairman's point.

The problem is the use of cut and run as an "alternative" in the "political debate."

Mr. Baker has fallen into the easy use of the Republican National Committee's talking points. "Stay the course" and "cut and run" are both phrases thrown around by political operatives in the media who are interested in furthering Republican causes. "Stay the course" has the advantageous characteristic of the old "Damn the torpedoes" school of warfare, and somehow stirs the soul. "Cut and run" seems cowardly.

Of course, the perniciousness of the phrase is that those who are urging the President and the Administration to pay attention to the failure of the current course of waging this war do not advocate "cut and run." That is totally a fiction of the Republican media hacks.

There is not a single Democrat of responsibility who urges anything like "cut and run."

One has to trust one's leaders. Mr. Bush and Co. have made that difficult to do. Mr. Baker, who has some modicum of integrity, if somewhat tarnished by his participation in the villainy of "Florida 2000," might have not meant anything by his casual use of the phrase, but he did use it, and Republican functionaries will seize on it and and repeat it to further their justification for continued power.

Independents and marginal party voters will once again have the "cut and run" implanted into their subconscious thinking, and the bipartisan nature of the Iraq Study Group is called into question--especially since the group's report, as stated above, is being withheld until after November 7.

The perfidy of the current Administration and its apparatchiks is pervasive, and even traps one of its "elder" statesmen.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

(un)Glad Tidings

OK. That title might be a little too arcane. Here's my thinking: As a proud liberal Democrat, I take some solace in anything which weakens the possibility of a continued Republican control of congress--the "Glad Tidings." As a concerned citizen of the United States who believes in openness, honesty, the democratic process, fair-play, and giving needed support to friends and colleagues, these tidings are somewhat not very happy for the body politic, ergo, un-glad.

The House page scandal is almost a textbook example of selfishness and cowardice and, and, and...

Joe Scarborough, who arrived in Congress with the 1994 Republican take over, says he knew all along that Foley is a gay man. At least three Republican congressmen knew Foley is gay and they had an inkling of his, um, follies. Foley's then-aide is gay; the recently resigned man in charge of the page program is gay. You would think, and for the most part be correct, that having a gay sexual orientation is a non-issue in the Republican party. Foley raised a lot of money; he voted with the party. He was an asset.

Since he was a valuable asset, why didn't those who knew of his eye for teens give him whatever support he needed to refrain from putting himself into compromising positions?

Instead of giving him the equivalent of a trip to the woodshed , they dithered; and Foley kept fooling himself as he fooled with others.

The Republicans who knew of this brewing trouble came close to perfidy to their party and to their colleague.

Friends don't let friends drive drunk, nor do they let friends be inappropriate with teenagers.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why the folderol over a common folly?

Control. Discretion. Or lack thereof, for Mark Foley and for many others.

People are dying in Baghdad and Mark Foley resigns from Congress. Guess which one makes the front pages and segments on news broadcasts and talk shows.

Three bits of information as of today, Sunday, we need to keep in the forefront of any discussion of Mr. Foley: 1) the age consent in D.C. is 16; 2) there is no indication of anything approaching physical contact; 3)the page didn't work for Foley.

Think of the possibilities. On the one hand you have a single, relatively attractive middle aged man who is a respected member of congress. On the other hand, you have a 16 year old boy who is a member of the Congressional pages.

At some point these two individuals began an email and instant message exchange. Eventually the boy's parents learned of the exchanges and demanded that their congressman take steps to see to it the communication ended.

One wonders how it started. Surely the pages in the Capitol gossiped about Foley's sexual orientation. Have you ever known a group of teens who didn't "share" whatever knowledge or speculation they might have about the sexuality of their teachers or bosses or neighbors or relatives? The kid sent Foley a note thanking him for some bit of assistance, and Foley, according to today's information, responded to the note, and they were off to the races.

A couple of bloggers (here's one, as a for instance) have postings about this which include a mention of Foley's efforts to "protect" young people from internet predators. Isn't that where the fuzziness of it all comes from? Just how "young" is young? What is the difference between an "ephebophile" and a "pedophile?" Is there one? As a suggestion, the recipient of Mr. Foley's internet musings was not a "young" person in the sense of what many people imagine when reading about internet predatory behavior. There is an example of the ambiguities of language.

The most senseless area of discussion deals with what turns someone "on." Think for a minute. How many 70 year old "booties" does one see in a music video? How many 70 year olds model for Playgirl? In other words how many human beings you know who is "turned on" by someone over, say, 50? (I know of at least one, but he is an anomaly among our friends. And the people he finds attractive are very seldom turned on by each other.)

Discretion and control turned out to be Foley's greatest weaknesses. He could have saved himself a deal of grief if he'd had either. As for the remainder of his "news story," we should be far more concerned with Baghdad.

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