Thursday, August 30, 2007

What to think about Larry Craig?

So, this Larry Craig story. I'll admit that I, like virtually everyone else, initially saw this as another example - a particularly egregious example - of party hypocrisy. But the more I read, see, hear about this, the more I think it's just really sad.

I'll not detail the history of this story. Ya'll can use Google as well as I can. But in a nutshell: Craig solicited other men for sex going back to 1967. He denied having sex with under-aged congressional pages in 1982. He has been under heavy scrutiny and investigation by the Idaho Statesman since 2004 when several men, some highly credible, some not, stated they had been solicited for sex or had sex with Craig.

Despite his denials, the guy is gay. Duh.

The hypocrisy is obvious. Craig has been a staunch social conservative his entire congressional career. He was a major proponent of the Defense of Marriage Act and of the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Further, Craig pled guilty to the charges of lewd conduct 6 months ago, the discovery of which sparked the current media firestorm. He is now, of course, denying that he was guilty. I could go on and on with this.

But, the sad part. Here's a guy who is obviously gay, but feels he is unable to simply say so. I would venture to guess that he grew up a conservative Christian and genuine believes in his socially conservative rhetoric. I'm sure he also believes that his homosexual thoughts and behaviors are sinful and feels guilty as hell.

I'm not gonna say I feel sorry for the him. Be a man and buck up. At least be honest with yourself. And if you can't be honest with the rest of us, then resign already. (Yeah, he already has as of this morning.)

I'd love to hear everyone else's take on the Larry Craig situation. Please leave comments.

with friends like these . . .

Apparently Rep. Brian Baird has been taking some heat from the liberal establishment in SW Washington. Apparently is using this opportunity to kick Rep. Baird in the shins and is running an ad on Youtube against him. One of the local news channels described the over capacity crowd in a Vancouver, WA high school gym as an "angry mob." (watch the clip) Apparently there was a "robo-call" that went out before the town meeting.

I am unclear about how running an ad against an entrenched Congressman furthers the cause of ending the war in Iraq. Baird has won his last two elections rather handily, I do not believe that this little stunt by his "base" is going to cause him any more heartburn than strawberry milkshake from Burgerville (a small chain in Oregon and SW Washington, at the risk of editorializing, they are delicious). Russell Shaw on Huffington Post had this to say:

There are three truths about Rep. Baird the NetRoots tend to forget.

First, he is on your side on most of the issues: an environmentalist with a thoughtful conscience, pro-choice, pro-labor, pro-public education and more.

Second, you may think he was "brainwashed," but I'd argue that brainwashing is rarely successful with someone of his particular professional qualifications and persuasion. That'd be Brian Baird, Ph.D. in psychology.

Third, although the Washington Third District leans slightly Democratic and Baird got 60 percent of the vote last time, this is still a swing district. Beyond the hip areas of downtown Vancouver, Wash., and the quite liberal enclaves of Olympia (where Rep. Baird is from), the district is full of small towns full of gun-loving, pious Republicans who listen to Rush, Sean Hannity and Lars Larson. These are people who only love spotted owls for dinner, have doubts about evolution but no doubts that Saddam was in on 9/11.

Rep. Baird was the one of the only members of the Washington State delegation, besides Sen Murray and Rep Inslee, who voted against the war in Iraq in the first place. People have very short memories don't they? Baird gave a rather impassioned floor speech on the war during the vote for the "surge."

The point is that the war in Iraq is regrettable, but that is about it. It has been a disaster with no end in sight. The closest analogy that I can think of is buyer's remorse. We were never told of the possible risks involved with invading and running the country ourselves. We botched and bungled the whole thing, but that doesn't mean that we should just quit.

The decision to withdraw prematurely doesn't really matter when Iraq is already pregnant about to burst at the seems with conflict. Rival factions are competing for a stake in the new country, conflict is inevitable, they aren't going to agree on everything and fighting for what you want is what politics is all about. Stability is what we seek in Iraq, that should be the goal now that we already decided to go to war. We are no longer the primary target that we were when the war started, although we are still a target. This war is going to be between the Sunnis and Shiites and the Kurds and is going to be fought for territory and resources (revenue).

Politics is about the establishment of values, war is about removing loyal opposition. Iraq needs a solution that embraces both of these truths without copping out to more soundbite political ads that are designed only to make people look bad.

I've always held Rep. Baird in high regard, this puts him up even further in my opinion. It takes courage to stand up against the war in the first place (which was the right thing to do) and it takes courage to stand up to popular sentiment against the war and seek an end to war with dignity and most importantly stability.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Alas, the Mariners have been swept. Our best three pitchers against the Angels, and swept. A 2-5 home-stand. Seriously, who cares about politics right now?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rep. Brian Baird - "Our troops have earned more time"

Rep. Baird has an opinion piece running in the Seattle Times today.

read it here.

Rep. Baird did not vote for the war in Iraq. He has recently returned from Iraq and has seen some progress.

"You may think you can walk away from Iraq," I was told by one leader. "We cannot. We live here and have to deal with the consequences of what your nation has done. So will you eventually, if the Iraq conflict spreads and extremists bring us down as well."

I do not know the details of what the September report will contain, but I trust and respect Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. I have seen firsthand the progress they have made, and I firmly believe we must give them the time and resources they need to succeed.

Though we would all wish this conflict would end tomorrow, it will not. We are going to have to begin to withdraw troops next spring because our equipment and our soldiers are wearing out. However, even with the progress that has been made of late, we will have a significant military and civilian role in Iraq and the region for some time to come. That is the price we must all pay for the decision to invade. We cannot shirk that responsibility.

I hope that you all read the honorable gentleman's words in print today. They are not awe-inspiring or optimistic, but they are heartfelt and even a little tough. There seems to be a real problem with telling the truth in our political process, even when the problems are staring you right in the face. Social Security is the perfect example of this. The problem is well known and there can be only two correct answers, raise taxes or cut benefits. What do you do if neither option is politically possible? Wait until the problem further develops and defines itself.

Iraq is in many respects similar. The problem is that we went in and destroyed a country for weapons that weren't there. Tore down every single social institution so that we could rebuild them again. We essentially destabilized the country to the point where there is no civil order. This is the kind of environment where violence thrives. There is no check on aggression by society, it could only come from individuals.

One thing that Rep. Baird understands is that a vote to withdraw is not the same as a vote to go to war. Peace activists seem to think that they can put humpty-dumpty back together again if they remove the US from the equation. Iraq already had a power vacuum after we removed Baathist from the bureaucracy and disbanded the military and police forces. What will the next power vacuum be like if we were to abandon the war and leave nothing to assume our role?

Typical Party Response

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Primary Election

Does anyone think that this is a story?

Nothing really noteworthy in the results that I have seen so far. It looks like the Port of Bremerton is going to have a change. There was an incumbent, Mary Ann Huntington, who lost the primary but will still be on the ballot for the general. The challenger, Larry Stokes, wound up taking 56% of the vote in a three-way race. There was a tax increase levied by the Port that was unpopular to say the least and the current commissioner will lose her job over it.

Here's the story in the Kitsap Sun

Kitsap SEED is going to be in the hot seat, I would be surprised if the Port of Bremerton took on any other new projects.

Please post comments as to other primary results that others may find interesting.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Which way out of Iraq?

Congress is home for its August recess, time to explain what has been going on in (Washington) D.C. and what is going to be done in Iraq. All of the easy answers have been exhausted. What do we do now?

Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington's 3rd Congressional District has recently returned from Iraq. Apparently he see signs of progress from the surge effort. Iraqi factions are starting to cooperate and Rep. Baird satisfied that we are moving in the right direction. At least he is convinced that it is a better option than just leaving.

One, I think we're making real progress. Secondly, I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility ... and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.

Seattle Times August 18, 2007

Here's another quote from the Seattle Times, this one is from David Postman's blog

We have to really remind the American people that we destroyed their civil government, their police force, the military, their infrastructure; we left the borders unguarded and open ... and we also shut down most state industry, leaving people out of work and filled with resentment.

Postman did a follow up piece on some other Democrats who have a view on the war that is not shared by the *ahem* "liberal-blogger-elite" or "netroots" crowd. I think that Rep. Baird is correct in his stance, There are legitimate risks, that are more than just probable, that could destabilize the Middle Eastwe'll have to see if Cindy Sheehan files to run against Rep. Baird as well as Speaker Pelosi.

Meanwhile Sen. Obama has stated that the military cannot win this war. What he actually said was, "there is no military solution to this war." A bit of a gaffe, a little to easy to spin that top. Is he right? Saddam Hussein was able to keep Iraq together by force, isn't that a military solution?

I understand that his point is that a "political" solution is needed, consensus is needed between the factions in Iraq and they need to have a shared stake in Iraq's future. It is a fine line between war and politics. War is the most basic way to establish values, and that is politics. Saddam established values, Paul Bremer established values; the difference is that one of those people established order and stability. At least there was electricity, running water, and the trains ran on time. This is the "political" solution, create social institutions that create stability and provide basic services for the citizenry.

Ol' Tom Hobbes set this out in his classic work Leviathan. Our state of nature is in conflict with each other for resources and survival. Hobbes postulated that all people recognize this on some level and willingly give up a portion of their freedom to the "Leviathan" in exchange for stability. Hobbes' idea of a social contract was a deal with the devil, but it is still the appropriate analogy about life in America and in Iraq post-September 11th.

A Thank You to Karl Rove

Dear Turd Blossom,

I'd like to give personal thanks to you for your service to the American people. Your single-mindedness and hubris have been inspirational.

Since your days at the U of Utah, you have worked tirelessly to promote the Republican agenda. Even when you dropped out, it was to go to work for the College Republicans. You stuck-it-to-the-man by dodging the draft, saying you were in college, but weren't. Brilliant. And I'm awestruck that you avoided Watergate investigators after your boss and mentor Donald Segretti went down, then documentation that your trainings for campaign workers included breaking in to Democratic HQ's and "going through the garbage."

Of course, you met the Bush family through your coup of the College Republicans and later went to work in God's favorite state. You worked for James Baker then helped Bill Clements become the first Republican governor of Texas in over 100 years! You formed your own political consulting company specializing in direct mailing. One of your first clients: none other than Phil Gramm, then a Democrat, later a Republican. (Did you have anything to do with that?)

You were the architect of innumerable campaigns, primarily in Texas. You handled everybody who was anybody from Clements and Gramm to John Ashcroft to ... wait for it ... George W. Bush! Yee-hah! I won't even go into all the detail of your Bush campaigns, everybody knows of your sage leadership.

Then you left the campaign-world to become a part of the policy-world. A first of it's kind! As the Senior Adviser to the President,
your true talents really came to light. You were able to do everything from increase the terror alert level whenever a political opponent gained ground, to helping form the White House Iraq Group with Dick Cheney. Your ability to influence policy for partisan reasons was unheard of. How ridiculous were all those left-wing-radicals who had the audacity to question your motives in creating and pushing policy agendas? I mean, duh. You were trying to make the world a safer place -- for Republicans!

You successfully put Joseph Wilson in his place by leaking the name of his wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, to the press.
(That really showed that yahoo in the Reagan campaign who fired you for leaking information to the press.) Of course you remember when the Families of September 11 said, "stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others," criticizing your comment,
Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
So you put them in their place by having W state it was "somewhat puzzling" because you simply pointed out "differences in philosophy." How do you do it?

And one more thing. No matter what, you never apologize. Never. In fact, you put responsibility on others. I mean, the election of 2006: how could that be your fault? That was totally because of the leftist mainstream media harping on the Mark Foley and Jack Abramoff stories.

And now, as the Bush Administration's time winds down and his approval ratings are the lowest of any president ever, your defiance of the lefties is a real inspiration. I just want to tell you that your moxie, your drive, your denial of the obvious, show all of us what real leadership is.

Thank you Mr. Blossom. Thank you.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Peace Activist Sheehan Launches Assault on Speaker Pelosi

Cindy Sheehan announced her candidacy against Speaker Pelosi. Sheehan first attracted the attention of the national media when she began her crusade to meet with President Bush at his ranch while he was on his annual working vacation. Sheehan's son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Sheehan could easily be portrayed as a catalyst, if not embodiment, of the public sentiment against the Iraq war. This also shows the fundamental problem of the modern Democratic Party, it simply cannot do well enough to keep its "base" content. It is never enough.

The Democrats don't have a great answer on Iraq. Hillary Clinton has speculated that troops will be in Iraq well into her second term. It is unclear just where most of the other candidates stand on the issue, although safely and quickly seem to be the adverbs of the week for speech writers.

I do not believe that a quick withdrawal is the best thing for anyone currently involved in Iraq. Iraq desperately needs stability. People need to feel secure in their future before they can focus on anything else. We owe it to the "Iraqi people" to at least give them some semblance of stability and order, or hand it off to someone who can, before we head off to our next big adventure.

Pelosi should survive this challenge easily, some of the more cynical have suggested that it makes her less susceptible to attacks that she is too liberal. I doubt that this means that they are going to stop calling her liberal because Sheehan is running against her. There is no way that this helps the Democrats in anyway. Pelosi needs to be campaigning for other candidates who need to be saved or who can give her another seat.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What next?

The President and Congress have left Washington to head to the home states and districts that they represent for the August recess. Several unresolved issues still linger on the national agenda and all of them are the minds of most Americans, foreign nationals, and *ahem* other.

The economy, particularly housing, has created some concern among policymakers. Housing is suffering a slow-down. Mortgages are lent to homebuyers by banks, the banks then sell bonds on the open market to move the debt off of the books so that they can lend more money. The problem has been that there have been a significant enough number of foreclosures and defaults on mortgages that the bonds have stopped being purchased on the secondary market. As a result lenders have tried to tighten up their loan guidelines to make the bonds more appealing, it's unclear if it is having much of an impact. There seems to be some confusion regarding what the solution to the problem is, some have suggested direct grants to homeowners that are in danger of foreclosure, others have suggested that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two government run corporations) be allowed to purchase more bonds on the secondary market, they are fresh off their own accounting scandal.

It is too early to tell what is going to happen, the problem is not well defined at this point. But there are a lot of people running for President and all of them have their own ideas of what will strengthen the housing sector.

Illegal Immigration is still lingering. No surprise there. It's been an issue for several years, the government is unable to enforce its own laws or change the laws to something more workable. Will they crack down on employers or will they tighten security at the border? Amazing that in this heighten security environment that we don't have any grasp on who enters this country. What's all the fuss about anyway?

Iraq. I am taking a pass on this one. There are finally some candidates who are at least talking about the risks associated with redeploying troops or withdrawing from Iraq altogether. None of the options are particularly pleasant.

It is not clear to me if politics is receiving more attention with the lead up to the presidential election or if it just more interesting to me. Is anyone else more interested or is it just me out here?