Monday, July 17, 2006

Nuclear power

It just occurred to me tonight...

When discussing oil prices, energy policies, and global warming with our friends on the right, you will often hear the rant about how it is all the fault of enrivonmentalists who fought against the building of nuclear powerplants in the past.

It occurred to me, who really has benefitted from the lack of nuclear power over the past 30 years? The oil industry!

I can't prove it, and I don't remember reading anything that suggested this, but it makes sense to me. I'll bet that the oil companies are just as responsible for suppressing nuclear power as the environmentalists. Maybe even more.

What do you think?

Who benefits from the growing economy

Read this item from Washington Monthly that cites a Wall Street Journal news item showing how the administration's latest economic numbers indicate that the "growing economy" primarily benefits the wealthiest. It's from the Wall Street Journal, remember, not some "liberal rag."

Check it out.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

If you knew Cheney

If you have read much about Dick Cheney's career, you know that he carries a lot of baggage from his experience in the Nixon administration. And much of that baggage has to do with executive power.

Cheney believes that the events of the Nixon presidency severely weakened the executive branch of the government, and consequently he has been on a crusade of sorts to restore or even broaden the power of the executive.

Here's an editorial from the New York Times today:

Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints. Even when the only challenge was to get required approval from an ever-cooperative Congress, the president and his staff preferred to go it alone. While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.
Perhaps the saddest part of what's going on is that the GOP-controlled Congress seems to be gladly relinquishing power to the Bush administration thus weakening the checks and balances created by the founding fathers.

There is a reason that the powers of the legislative branch are created in Article I of the Constitution and only afterwards are the powers of the executive enumerated in Article II. And this is why it is imperative that the opposition party regain control of the Congress and restore the checks and balances that the Republics have ignored.

The Cheney - Rumsfeld administration

You know, this foreign policy stuff is hard work. It's complex and it's serious stuff.

Unfortunately, George W. Bush has no grasp of the realities of foreign affairs or hard work for that matter.

Can you believe Republics voted for a man for president who for all intents and purposes had never set foot outside of the United States? This man was never a success at anything in his life until he became governor of Texas.

So why was George W. Bush elected president? Because Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld couldn't be. However, they could maneuver their way to become the two most powerful men in Government. And they did.

Who chose Dick Cheney to be Vice-President? Dick Cheney did. (For those who may have forgotten, Bush asked Cheney to lead the effort to select a running mate for the 2000 election. Cheney selected...Cheney.)

Here is a great article on the subject from Rolling Stone Magazine: The Curst of Dick Cheney, The veep's career has been marred by one disaster after another.

Dick Cheney has served in key positions in four Republic administrations. Nixon, Ford, Bush I, and Bush II. With luck, Bush II will be the first of them to complete two terms. Why?

Cheney and Rumsfeld are bold thinkers. The problem is, they never think about the consequences of their boldness. Instead, they expect to win every "chess match" with one bold move.

So using their connections in the Republic establishment, they have used an intellectually incurious, incompetent man with a folksy manner and a Christian heart to gain the power to make the bold moves they have been hoping to make for decades, bold moves that Bush I and his administration refused to do.

And they made the bold move. In Iraq. And they screwed up. Because they thought they could make the bold move and the rest would take care of itself. Forget about the consequences.

They are trying to pin it on the CIA. "Slam dunk", "bad intelligence", and all that. The fact is, and this is beyond dispute, they cherry-picked the intelligence to support their bold move. The CIA believed that Saddam had WMD, but they knew there were reasonable and serious doubts.

So now here we are in a mess, a huge mess. The Right asks of the Democrats "where is their plan?" But this administration has put this country in a position where there are no good options.

And because this administration turned its back on many of our staunchest allies, because it pre-emptively attacked a country without being 100% dead certain of its justification, it gets little sympathy, much less help from other countries.

So our military, great as they are, victorious as they were in swiftly toppling Saddam, are stretched thin and tired. Few allies and tired soldiers leave us with fewer options in fighting this so-called World War III.

I read on blogs and from William Kristol calls for yet more "bold moves" again with respect to Iran and North Korea. They want more bold moves from men who have weakened our world position instead of strengthened it due to a series of cluster f**ks riddled with hubris mixed with incompetence.

And some on the Right lament that Bush is out of ideas? He's never had one. The ideas are Cheney's, Rumsfeld's, Wolfowitz's, and Rove's. And look where they've put us.

Some on the Right claim, "Democratic Party leaders want to pretend we can declare peace and everything will be fine." This is absurd, of course. The US is years from peace, and the Democrats know that. They also know that this administration has put us in a bad place, and they know there's got to be a better way.

How can intelligent people on the Right possibly keep supporting this administration of failed ideology and bold f**kups?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Things you need to believe . . .

Recently on Casting Pearls Before Swine, Mark posted a list of "things you have to believe to be a liberal." It was mildly amusing in its absurdity.

In response, I offer this list of things you need to believe to be a Republic(an):

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals, Arabs, and Hillary Clinton.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney and Rumsfeld did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush couldn't find Bin Laden.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle and antagonize our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A President lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a President lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's and Dick Cheney's driving records are none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

Supporting "Executive Privilege" is imperative for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born in perpetuity.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wrong Again...

So over at Right from the Right, the Game cites Robert Novak's statement regarding his role in the Valerie Plame Leak affair then comments on Novak and the case, ranting as he often does about how the "left" wants to regain power. Duh?!

Game demonstrates once again his failure to grasp the documented realities of this situation even to the point of making assertions that are patently false.

For example, Game says, "NO ONE EVER said the name Valerie Plame or Wison, NO ONE....except JOE WILSON....that is who he found out the information from." This is untrue of course because Joe Wilson did not give this information to Novak or anyone else. Novak admits that he was given information that "Wilson's wife" was a CIA operative. The right and Game assert that this single "fact" lets everyone off the hook because the "name" of the operative was not leaked. So I guess that means if I were to reveal that the man who lives at 123 Main St. is a CIA operative, I'm not divulging classified information.

How absurd is that notion?

Game said, "a person that was not really undercover if all you had to do was look up her name." Again, how absurd is that notion?

Game seems to think that to actually be a covert agent, you must become one of the "Men In Black" and completely lose your identity. The fact that "V" actually did have an identity in no way makes her covert status public knowledge.

The right claims that Plame wasn't covert because Novak got her name out of "Who's Who". They and Game seem to forget that Joe Wilson was a United States ambassador and he and who he was married to would reasonably be found in "Who's Who". But "Who's Who" does not describe Plame as a covert CIA operative. And the CIA has repeatedly stated that Plame was a covert agent and that that information was classified. Patrick Fitzgerald confirmed that in October of 2005 stating that her being a covert CIA operative was unknown OUTSIDE of the intelligence community.

So Novak divulged CLASSIFIED INFORMATION given to him by government officials. To the right and Game, this is OK because it is somehow different from the NY Times printing information about a "secret" financial intelligence program or a possibly illegal wire-tapping program.

Why would one be upset about the former and not the latter? Because there is a good case that the "vital" anti-terrorism programs were conducted without proper congressional and judicial oversight whereas the damaging leak of CLASSIFIED information about the identity of a covert CIA agent was done purely for political purposes.

Note: I welcome comments about this and other posts on my blog. If you wish to debate with facts and citations of reputable sources, that would be great. If the gist of your comment is an ad hominem attack, I will probably delete your comment. I reserve the right to give you a warning or not. You do not have to agree with me. But you do have to present a fact-based argument or an informed opinion.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Medical Malpractice Myth

I've written here about this before, but it bears repeating. The high cost of healthcare is not due to frivolous malpractice suits nor outragious jury awards. It's a myth, which is a polite way of saying it's a lie, perpetrated by insurance companies for the most part. And it's a myth in so many ways.

Ezra Klein in Slate writes about the subject:

The Republican answer to runaway health-care spending is to cap jury awards in medical malpractice suits...

But rather than capping jury awards, [Hillary Clinton and Brarak Obama] hope to cut the number of medical malpractice cases by reducing medical errors..
Seems that multiple studies done by such organizations as the Harvard Medical Practice and RAND show that the reason medical malpractice costs are high (yet only 0.5% of total healthcare costs) is that there is more malpractice. What a concept!

When doctors and medical organizations such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists completed a study of increased malpractice suits, they worked at reducing malpractice rather than trying to cap awards. They instituted measures to reduce medical errors and that resulted in premiums being rolled back to 1985 levels.

There's lots more in this article. Check it out.