Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prediction: all roads lead to Fox

How long until General McCrystal shows up as a Fox News analyst to criticize Obama's conduct of the war in Afghanistan? Put me down for late September. While I'm looking into the future, I also see Evan Bayh joining the Fox team once he's officially out of the Senate. Joe Lieberman will also run to Fox rather than run and lose his seat. Fox will showcase both Bayh and Lieberman as evidence of their balanced coverage. Yes, I'm really going out on a limb.

Going native

Growing up in America, moving to Australia, and then New Zealand, the evils commited by colonial England against the indigenous peoples have become increasingly obvious and unavoidable. From the Native Americans of America, to the Aborigines of Australia, to the Maori of New Zealand, the story is always the same...brutality on a massive scale against the natives in order to rob them of their natural resources.

To their credit, the governments of both Australia and New Zealand have acknowledged the wrongs committed against their natives, and they are trying to make amends. They have made efforts to integrate the natives into the white man's society, and they have made visible efforts to celebrate native heritage. America could take some lessons here.

New Zealand sets aside seats in parliament for the Maori Party. That's an interesting idea. Perhaps the USA could set aside a seat or two in the Senate and a seat for each tribe or reservation in the House. It seems the very least we could do is replace the offensive and embarrassing Columbus Day with a day dedicated to celebrating Native American history and culture.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is the Presidency weak, or just this one?

In the aftermath of the Senator Blanche Lincoln's (D) primary victory in Arkansas, there's been a lot of back and forth about presidential power. Some claim that the Presidency is weak--that Congress, especially the Senate holds the power. Others, like Glenn Greenwald, argue that Presidents have vast power and influence, but only use it for the things they actually care about.

In the latter scenario, we have Obama campaigning on closing Guatanamo, but then advocating holding those same prisoners without charges in Illinois. We have Obama campaigning on health care reform with a robust public option, but then deciding a public option isn't that important afterall. We have Obama campaigning on carbon reductions to address global warming, but a national speech on energy policy that doesn't even mention those words. The weak-President theorists would say this is just Obama facing the reality of dealing with Congress. I disagree. I think Obama doesn't exercise his powers for progressive values because he doesn't actually share those values.

Bush was able to convince 70% of Americans that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 911!!! Bush was able to convince Americans that two unfunded wars were more important than his ballooning federal deficit. Bush was able to convince Americans that massive tax cuts during an economic boom were a great idea (again, despite the deficit). Bush did all this despite facts that weren't on his side, because this is what he cared about. With the facts on his side, if Obama cared as much about civil rights, health care, global warming, financial regulation, immigration reform, etc. as Bush did about launching wars and cutting taxes, he could move public opinion too.

Mining for Terrorists

American forces have been in Afghanistan for 8 years. They can't find Bin Laden, but they can find the largest lithium reserves in the world! Amazing. Were they using mining equipment to burrow into Bin Laden's labyrinth of caves?

I understand that America has a responsibility to help rebuild Afghanistan. Helping them discover and tap into natural resources other than opium seems reasonable. Buy why the Department of Defense? Why not the Department of the Interior in concert with the State Department?

Germany's President was recently forced to resign for merely suggesting that their military might be justifiably used to protect their trade interests. A couple weeks later the American military reports that they've found the largest lithium reserves in the world, and all the debate is about whether this will be good or bad thing for Afghanistan's future?! No one seems to be questioning the DOD's role. I find that disturbing.