Archive for the 'politics' Category

John Kyl (R-Arizona) Says Regime Change Should be Ultimate U.S Goal in Iran

This past week Iran was once again in the headlines. A Summer of violence inflicted on dissidents by the military and security forces following the Iranian Presidential “election” in June, as well as fears that the Islamic Republic could soon acquire nuclear weapons; have gained the country much attention and has created much concern.

Last week at the United Nations, the country’s “President” faced protests by those denouncing his brutish tactics against Iranian protesters in his own country. His diatribes against Israel and denial of the holocaust caused many to walk out during his speech before the United Nations last week. And intelligence of a subterranean facility connected to the country’s nuclear program; elicited rebukes and renewed talk of International sanctions by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and even Russia to a lesser degree.

Now, as the United States remains mired in two Middle Eastern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (both countries next to Iran), some of the neocons in the United States think maybe two millitary stalemates aren’t enough.

It appears that Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) and outgoing Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) are mulling regime change in Iran. Kyl and Bond who each appeared on Sunday morning political talk shows, aren’t yet urging an all out Iraq-style pre-emptive war just yet, nevertheless he says regime change should be the ultimate objective of the United States in its policy towards Iran.

“What we’re trying to do here eventually is get a regime change,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Get a group of people in there that are more representative of the Iranian people, that we really can talk with in a way that might end up with a good result. I think it’s very difficult to do that with the current leadership and especially the elected president,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

My Pavlovian response to such rhetoric is usually a mix between a roll of the eyes, fear of another military adventure that ends in an outright fiasco, and anger that anyone could be stupid enough to be so cavalier after what we have endured with Iraq. But the so-called election this past Summer (and no Senator Kyl he isn’t the “elected President” of Iran he stole the election at least as far as we can tell) shows that there is a reservoir of suspicion and resentment towards Amadinejad that has gone beyond him and was so audacious as to be aimed even at the Mullahs who hold the real power in the country.

Action should be taken for sure, and as of now it appears that Obama is attempting to adopt the approach similar to that George HW Bush took in 1990 following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq; attempting to build legitimacy with the International community specifically within the UN membership to denounce and punish Iran, rather then the bungled neoconservative model of the Iraq war.

As Josh Marshall on TPM points out, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even says that any sort of military action towards Iran would have limited results. After attacking any facilities what is to say that Iran won’t immediately work to rebuild such capabilities? Would we once again be forced to militarily reconstructing the entire sociopolitical framework of a nation where we are viewed with suspicion and whose culture Americans by and large have little familiarity with? Such a move would further destabilize the global economy, driving further up the price of oil. Not all the weapons sites are likely known in Iran since U.S Intelligence in the country is scant at best if existent at all. It sits in a region where its two neighboring countries Iraq and Afghanistan have unstable, inept regimes that are seen as effective by much of their citizenry and are just possibly fragile enough to also be forced from power in reaction.

The international community would likely not stand alongside the United States and Israel in such an attack, and such talk would only cause Iran to expedite the development of a nuclear program and do something that this summer shows Ahmadinejad and the government were never able to do and that is make him legitimate in the eyes of the Iranian people. His tirades and fear mongering would be validated and any opening the U.S may have had with the Iran citizenry could be very well sealed shut if we are perceived as trigger happy. An attack on Iran could turn more of them against us and in the wake of such an attack we could see a flood of Iranians crossing into Iraq armed with a newly formed hatred in their hearts and thousands of U.S soldiers in their sights.

Finally, the government of Ahmadinejad is not the body that really hold the bulk of the decision making power is done by the mullahs and the Grand Ayatollah. In the larger configuration of things Ahmadinejad is a minute component in the more vast system of the Iranian elite.

If we have learned anything from nearly a decade of struggle and Afghanistan and our invasion of Iraq, its that War and regime change are something that is easy to spout off about, but violent, costly, and painstaking to carry out. We are already locked in two wars rebuilding two nations,to enter a third would be the most absurd and tragic of follies.



The Political Dis of the Day

The contentious talk of health care reform has brought about many colorful and irrational characters and claims to the forefront. There are some legitimate questions in this often raucous dialogue (such as more specifics on just how the President hopes to pay for such reform), but the vitriol and personal hatred from those such as the “tea baggers”, the non sense and stupid conspiracy theories of the “birthers”, or Glenn Beck’s “9/12” project, a conservative political group fronted as a post- 9/11 unity group. Its kind of like the Blair Witch Project, except the ghosts are whiter, older, and more monolithically far right.

Our politicians need to be held accountable and be transparent in thier actions and proposals to be sure. But if they are on grounds that are devoid of any sound evidence, then those who give voice to such overtly outlandish claims are fair game for ridicule.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), owned a anti-health care reformer at a town hall meeting in his district. After a lengthy list of grievances and with out proof asserting that Obama will raise taxes to pay for health care and other claims dismissed by Obama in last week’s speech before congress, the questioner said “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me its raining.”

Well it seems that the questioner had set himself up for a big slam down in terms of a comeback.


First reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and confirmed by a YouTube clip of the event, the longtime congressman made the remark after the participant launched into a long, but calm, litany about government inefficiency when it comes to nation’s health care system. The man concluded his remarks with warning Stark not to “pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

As the audience cheered, a calm Stark responded: “Well, I wouldn’t dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn’t be worth wasting the urine.”

There was a mixture of laughter and boos as Stark motioned for the next question.


Obama Captures Newt Gingrich’s Mind

Well its happened.President Obama has given his national speech that has been shown in classrooms throughout the country. A number of parents (most whom probably didn’t vote for him and have a rabid loathing of anything to do with Obama) have objected, and a number of schools aren’t showing the speech. But already it seems to have borne the fruit of socialism, thanks to the hypnotic power of Obama. Former Congressman, Club for Growth President, and Pennsylvania Senatorial candidate Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has previously accused Obama of starting a dictatorship, has been brainwashed. His message? Stay in school!

Perhaps Toomey and Gingrich and other conservatives with at least a scintilla of reason, intellect, or political acumen realize just how stupid the rest of their peers sound. Back in the 1960s it was the conservative elements of America that voiced the most outrage about the message of “Turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Now it appears that the post rational message of many conservatives seems to be that only commies stay in school.


Well Lets Just Push aside Over 200 Years of Principles and Countless Treaties

Because Dick Cheney’s feelings might be hurt. He mine as well have said as much on Fox News Sunday. Keep in mind this a preliminary investigation launched by Attorney General Eric Holder, as to whether those who formulated torture policies used in interrogations that go beyond the bounds of what is legal should be prosecuted.

By the way a window into Cheney’s autocratic way of thinking, according to him the President is the Chief law enforcement official of the country, not the Attorney General. Well this may have been true in his administration, most try to promote the image that it is not merely a puppet of the administration in power.

Cheney’s philosophy is best summed up by both his old mentor Richard Nixon said “If the President does it, its not illegal”.

“I guess the other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly, is we had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from al Qaeda,” Cheney said. “The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time?”

Also in that interview, he hocks his book and says that when he was Vice President he advocated the use of military force against Iran (because the invasion of Iraq that Cheney ran into the ground went so well). Maybe Cheney should move to a country with a totalitarian government instead of one with the rule of law and a Bill of Rights. He would likely feel more at home there.


Romney for the Senate?

As unseemly and tawdry as it may seem ( hey after all we are talking about politics here), just who could succeed the now late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in the Senate is being speculated about.

The names of just who will succeed Kennedy are piling up. Former congressman and Lowell UMASS Chancellor Marty Meehan, as well as Congressmen Steven Lynch or Mike Caputano. State Attorney General Martha Coakley, as well as Ted Kennedy’s nephew former Congressman Joseph Kennedy or Senator Kennedy’s widow Vicki are being floated are being floated on the Democratic side.

On the other side, Republicans see themselves as having a once in a life time shot at an open senate seat, as a powerful incumbent is now gone and what all trends point to a good coming year for the Republican party nationally.

Some conservatives and pundits see former one term Governor, 2008 GOP (and almost certainly 2012) Presidential contender Mitt Romney (R-MA) as the ideal candidate. Romney ironically was a one time Kennedy rival who gave him a close run for his money politically speaking, for his senate seat in 1994. He himself is also a member of a political dynasty and with his Massachusetts as well as nationwide name recognition, deep pool of personal wealth, and boyish face could score a large political win.

Peter Kroff, (via Political Wire), sees Romney as a strong candidiate.

Surprisingly enough, this brings things back full circle to Romney, who up to now has been busy laying the groundwork for another presidential bid in 2012. It would be an intriguing thing if, after waiting a day or two out of respect for the late senator, Romney were to downshift and announce he will be a candidate in the upcoming election to fill Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat.

Such an announcement would likely be embraced immediately by the Republicans, who would like almost nothing more than to deny Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada his new, hard-won, 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority. As a self-funding candidate who has already been elected once statewide, Romney has nearly 100 percent name ID. And, in an environment where President Obama seems to be dragging the Democrats down, he would be a serious threat to the Democratic hegemony in Massachusetts’s congressional delegation. Meaning Romney likely would win.

If he did, Romney would then have a platform to actually introduce legislation modeled on the proposals he put forward as a presidential candidate in 2008 and planned to put forward in 2012. No guesswork. No empty rhetoric. Real ideas, on the Senate floor, that could be evaluated, debated, and perhaps even voted on.

But Massachusetts is about as liberal as say Utah is conservative. As Allah Pundit says, Romney ran as a moderate to liberal in the Bill Weld tradition on social issues, but vacillated on a whole potpourri of those issues in 2008 (gun control, gay rights, civil unions, abortion, affirmative action, etc). That conversion of his views to the more conservative persuasion would turn the vast majority of Massachusetts voters off. Besides running for the Senate seat would almost certainly take him out of the running for the job he really craves, the Presidency. Romney seems to be the next in line and if he wants to be President 2012 could be his best and only chance.

The last part of this analysis also pretty much sums up why Romney would be a poor choice for the Senate (if in the unlikely event he chose to run for it). Romney as Governor had a legislative record that was short on significant and tangible policy. By and large he chose to try and run the state like a CEO and in 2006 by and large had abandoned the state in his quest for the Presidency. His 2008 campaign consisted of few policy ideas and relied mostly on conservative platitudes to appeal to the base and his telegenic looks, and Romney by a large is a politician who doesn’t cloak his ambitions well. A seat in the Senate would put Romney on the spot and in the awkward situation of crafting substantive policies that would appeal both to the conservatives of the National Republican party and not alienate moderates and independents in his own state. A stance any seeker of the Presidency would be well to do without.

Update (3:40PM/ET)-
Nate Silver corroborates the point that well Romney may be a compelling candidate for National Republicans, a Romney victory in any general election, judging by his past numbers would most likely be beyond the reach of the possible.

Update: (4:15PM/ET)- Romney rules out Senate run.


Senator Edward Kennedy Dies at Age 77

Above is the famous 1980 Presidential speech by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), marking the end of his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Massachusetts Senior Senator, “Liberal Lion”, and the last surviving son of the Kennedy dynasty that illuminated Massachusetts, the United States, and the globe passed on last night at the age of 77, following a lengthy bout with brain cancer.

Kennedy was the youngest of nine children, including President John F Kennedy and Senator Robert F Kennedy. Kennedy became a U.S Senator from Massachusetts in 1962, filling the Senate seat once held by his elder brother John. Following the deaths of his brothers, who fell victim to political assassins in 1963 and 68 respectively he took the helm of leadership as patriarch of the iconic Kennedy family, steering them and a nation through the shimmering waters of prosperity and greatness and the dark waters of tumult and uncertainty.

Throughout his nearly half a century in the Senate he sponsored legislation and heralded such causes as: Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Fair housing, Medicare, health care, Title 9 which called fore fairness for women’s school athletics, lowering the voting age to 18, ending Apartheid, and Peace in Northern Ireland to just name a few segments of that profound body of legislation that aided in broadening that great New Frontier, that idealism his elder brother John F Kennedy articulated in his 1960 Presidential campaign.

Kennedy of course was not without his sins, blemishes, and short comings. But his death and in life, despite often being the target and object of ire of conservatives, he marshaled bi-partisan respect and admiration.

Associated Press:

HYANNIS PORT, Mass. (AP) — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in an enduring political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy, a liberal Democrat, served alongside 10 presidents – his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them – compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

In a brief statement to reporters at his rented vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., President Barack Obama eulogized Kennedy as one of the “most accomplished Americans” in history – and a man whose work in Congress helped give millions new opportunities.

“Including myself,” added the nation’s first black president.

Senator Kennedy is survived by his last surviving sibling, his elder sister Jean Kennedy Smith, countless nieces and nephews, grandchildren, his three children Kara, Teddy Jr, and Patrick, two step children, his first wife Joan, and his wife Vicki.

Here is the official statement released by the Kennedy family:

“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”


America Needs to Remember Godwin’s Law

The logic that springs from Hitler comparisons.

Kathleen Parker writes about the use of Hitler comparisons and Nazi references at recent town hall meetings.

Hear, hear. Invocations of Hitler usually mean two things: one, a poverty of imagination, and two, a paucity of good arguments. It is nearly axiomatic that any protest against government action will feature Hitler in some form. Left and right are equally guilty. Trivializing such evil is an insult to the memory of millions who suffered and died by his order, as well as to the intelligence of all sentient beings.

It may no longer be possible in this country to have a serious debate about anything. Inevitably, substance devolves into silliness. Even the most dignified of statesmen become caricatures when juxtaposed with the ridiculous.

Whether it be the Jacobins on the left comparing Bush/Cheney to Hitler or the loony tunes on the right comparing Obama’s health care reform efforts and big spending to Hitler and the Nazis (as if health care and spending were what defined Hitler and the Nazis policies as ghastly and atrocious)I have yet to hear of any argument or dispute in which a Hitler comparison provided a victory to anyone. Rather if serves only to silence the opposition, that increases tension, moments of of tense awkward silence, and usually signals the end of any sound arguments.