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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

First as Tragedy, Second as Farce 

An interesting review of Mary Hershberger's new book, Jane Fonda's War: A Political Biography of an Anti-War Icon, in the London Review of Books. The book, writes reviewer Rick Perlstein, shows how the Nixon administration vilified otherwise mainstream celebrities such as Fonda (and Dr. Benjamin Spock)to rally support for a war they knew was already lost. In the process many of the popular Jane Fonda urban legends were created.

As someone who was around during the Vietnam War (as a student and in the military)I found the following paragraph ringing true:
Most Americans opposed the war by the time Nixon started running for re-election; every candidate in 1972, including the dozen or so contenders for the wide-open Democratic nomination (among them Henry "Scoop" Jackson, the neo-conservative hero), was promising to end it. Most citizens, even if they didn't fully admit it to themselves, knew that America was losing. But there was something else: the nagging feeling that it was the inability of Americans to get behind the war mission that was causing America to lose. In other words, by 1972, a significant number of Americans - perhaps enough to elect a president - were full of doubts as to whether the imminent humiliation of the United States was partially their own fault. "The country's behind you - 50 per cent," Bob Hope told soldiers in South-East Asia. It was funny because it was true. But he stopped telling the joke when it got too true: when more and more GIs counted themselves as members of the other 50 per cent. Soldiers were not a separate species of American; most of them were conscripts. You had to be a pretty dumb dogface not to understand at some level that this was different from the wars you'd been raised on: that it was morally and militarily useless, and that your team was losing - for the first time in American history. And if you were a soldier who suspected the war was wrong, you eventually found yourself wrestling with anger at having stabbed yourself in the back.
As with the Iraq War today, those who supported the Vietnam War into the 1970s could not suggest what a realistic successful outcome might be, and thus lost the trust of the troops and the people.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bend Over, Buddy 

Sun-Sentinel political columnist Buddy Nevins demeans himself by fawning over Marco Rubio, the future speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Nevins calls Rubio a man of the people for soliciting ideas from "average Floridians" on "what Florida should look like and how government can help us get there."

Wow! I can see it now . . . DCF getting enough funding to enable our state's abused and neglected children to be protected. Or adequate funding for our colleges and universities without excessive increases in tuition. Environmental initiatives to bring back our natural resources.

Oh wait, Rubio wants only ideas "that don't involve government spending."

Buddy, Buddy, Buddy . . . I thought you, of all people, would be able to spot a cheap political scam when you heard it. Especially one as transparent as Rubio's.

The truth is that Governor Bush and the Republicans have placed Florida in a deep hole, and Rubio wants ideas on how to get out but he doesn't want to fund the ladder.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Huh? 

Leesburgian Ben Larson, who blogs under the title "The Last Liberal in Central Florida," speculates on another case of mysterious sentencing.

Apr├Ęs-Wilma 

Fort Lauderdale resident and blogger Steve Koppelman chronicles his experiences in the days after Hurricane Wilma.

How Can They Sleep At Night? 

Governor Bush and Republican Legislators see tax cuts as one of their primary goals.

The result shouldn't surprise anyone:
"The reality of it is we do not have adequate funds for the kids. . ."
The quote is from Florida DCF District Commissioner Chuck Hood and refers to children in foster care -- orphans and abused kids.

Click on the link and read this Miami Herald report -- it will make you sick to your stomach.

Family values, indeed.

(via Florida Politics)

Who'da Thunk It? 

Not a good time for Florida sports fans. The state's "Big Three" -- the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes -- all lost their last game and none may go to a BCS bowl, the Florida Marlins are threatening to move out of the area, the Florida Panthers have lost almost a dozen games in a row, the Dolphins are heading toward one of their worst seasons in decades and Shaq is hurt.

Thank god for the Knights and the Bulls.

And even though both teams have losing records, I may still attend the FAU-FIU game on Saturday.

Fortunately there's a lot more to life than sports. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

No Thanks 

The Sun-Sentinel's Stephen Goldstein is not looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. He claims the Bush brothers have given us a lot for which we should not be thankful:
As a Floridian, I cannot celebrate Thanksgiving while an activist governor tries to remake the state in his image -- refusing to implement, and trying to overturn, constitutional amendments passed by voters, ignoring the explicit separation of church and state in the Florida Constitution, neglecting the state's constitutional mandate for a system of high quality education. Recently, it was reported that, in violation of state law, Jeb controls state agencies' requests for money from the Legislature. The governor always has a better way -- his. Problem is, it isn't sanctioned by law.
Goldstein identifies a real problem with both Governor Bush and the President Bush -- both believe that if the constitution(s) get in their way, it's OK to find a "devious" way around it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Why We Miss Him 

Former Senator Bob Graham explains why he didn't vote for the Iraq War in 2002, concluding,
From my advantaged position, I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth -- or even had an interest in knowing the truth.

On Oct. 11, I voted no on the resolution to give the president authority to go to war against Iraq. I was able to apply caveat emptor. Most of my colleagues could not.
As they say, read the whole thing.

(via Flablog)

Friday, November 18, 2005

They're Inside the Gates 

Michael Froomkin:
Barbarians are people who break what they don't understand. And the current administration does not understand due process, human rights, or even common minimum decency.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Affordable Housing 

The Palm Beach Post editorializes on a problem that is affecting all of South Florida -- affordable housing.

One problem is that developers are building most housing units at purchase prices far beyond the resources of the median wage-earning family (median price of a house in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton metro area is about $340,000). The other is that in building these new developments, older, more affordable housing stock is eliminated.

The Post's observation: "The county has just awakened to the fact that voluntary efforts to persuade builders to erect affordable homes do not work."

The Cuban-American Vote 

Sun-Sentinel columnist Guillermo I. Martinez sees trouble ahead for the GOP in Florida if it does not have "a strong national leader with a proven strong anti-Castro policy" running for president in 2008.

Martinez admits that fealty to one-note, anti-Castro politicians won't pay the bills: "As the importance of the Cuba-only issue decreases, those who live in the area will have to decide to vote their pocketbook or their social values."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dems Do Buffett 


Say what you will about the Florida Democratic Party, but you can't argue with the logo it is using for its annual party conference.

Now if the conference was in Key West rather than at Disney . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Informed Indeed 

Juan Cole has an excellent post titled The Strange Death of Moustapha Akkad; Zarqawi and "Halloween" at Informed Comment.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Roe v. Wade v. Rube Goldberg 

Newsweek's Anna Quindlen looks at the contortions necessary to continually fine tune Roe v. Wade:
In the Pennsylvania matter on which Alito dissented, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the appellate panel considered how many married women have abortions, whether they would be likely to confide in their husbands, whether the regulations protected them against men who might beat them bloody. It all sounded a bit as though the judges had wandered off the bench and into someone's bedroom.

Alito argued that spousal notification was no undue burden and noted that under the terms of the Pennsylvania statute it was "difficult to enforce and easy to evade." In other words, it was merely a symbolic roadblock. To what purpose? To pay lip service to the marital bond? To lump spousal and parental notification together, so that women become children and husbands guardians? To play some cynical game with complex decisions of conscience for the sake of the folks back home?

It's the kind of wink and nod that has become commonplace. For instance, model laws to make abortion illegal assume penalties for doctors but not for their patients. This either reflects the old belief that women are scarcely sentient enough to be punished, or the new reality that throwing desperate women in jail would provoke a public uproar. Or it reflects the inherent problem with crafting legislation on matters unsuitable for resolution by legislative fiat.
Quindlen advocates agnosticism on the part of government toward this issue, letting judges "return to those issues that lend themselves to jurisprudence."

Do You Know What You Think You Know? 

I didn't vote for gambling last year (or earlier this year in Broward County's ballot), but I am a little insulted that Governor Bush and Republican legislators think "Voters didn't fully understand the ramifications of last year's balloting and should have an opportunity next year to revisit the issue."

There are some problems with amending the constitution via initiative, but that is a legal method of changing our laws. For the Governor and other State leaders to assume that any vote that goes against their wishes is based on a lack of information or misunderstanding is offensively paternalistic.

Then again, how else to explain how these guys got elected . . .

(via Florida Politics)

Monday, November 07, 2005

It's the Process, Not the Results 

Why Now? on when the use of torture is productive:
If your purpose is to coerce a confession from the innocent, then torture is the technique of choice. If you would like to compile a list of totally worthless names, then torture is very effective. If you would like to prove that you can be just as vicious and lawless as any group of thugs on the planet: accept no substitute for torture.

Thirty Years or Nothing 

An disconcerting contrast in justice.

Florida Politics, has a post on William Thornton IV being sentenced to 30 years in jail for his role in the death of two people in a Citrus County automobile accident. Meanwhile, Blogwood recounts the less draconian sentence ("she will never see a day of jail time for her actions") handed down to Jennifer Porter of the Tampa area, who was not only the cause of a fatal accident, but also left the scene and destroyed evidence.

I don't have any particular knowledge of these two cases, but from the basic information provided, what justifies the difference in sentencing? Blogwood says to look at the victims.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Robotic Shills 

Is there any greater waste of time than listening to Wolf Blitzer discuss politics with Ed Gillespie and Terry McAuliffe? Both remind me of the old Speak and Say toy -- turn the dial to a specific point and you get a predictable, set message.

No Room at the Inn 

Both the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel have articles today on the problems encountered by residents displaced by Hurricane Wilma.

The Herald notes that confusion over emergency housing has led to the removal "of the director of the [FEMA] offices."

The Sun-Sentinel says thousands have lost their homes, if only temporarily:
Across Broward County, residents continued packing while coming to grips with the fact their homes are gone, at least for several months. City and county officials have deemed as unsafe 1,837 buildings -- 3,733 total residential units. But a South Florida Sun-Sentinel survey of city officials showed at least 4,635 unlivable homes in Broward County.
All this is made worse by a shortage of available affordable housing housing in South Florida, especially rental units (many of which had previously been converted to condos). Some will be able to move on (and maybe move out of South Florida), but starting over may be more difficult for the 80 and 90-year old residents of hurricane damaged retirement communities.

Who Dat in the Shadows? 

Andrew Sullivan wonders why Vice President Cheney is afraid to argue his case in public:He's still furiously lobbying Senators to protect his right to torture. A man who avoided service in Vietnam is lecturing John McCain on the legitimacy of torturing military detainees. But notice he won't even make his argument before Senate aides, let alone the public. Why not? If he really believes that the U.S. has not condoned torture but wants to reserve it for exceptional cases, why not make his argument in the full light of day? You know: where democratically elected politicians operate.Perhaps because he doesn't really believe in democracy.

Goodbye Wilma 

Went over to friends to watch the Florida - Vanderbilt game last night (a win is a win, but overtime against the Commodores?). When we returned home -- cable TV had come back on.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Let There Be Light! 

I was at work when I received word from a neighbor that power had been restored in our neighborhood. It seems I missed quite a celebration -- not dissimilar to VJ Day.

From what I heard the electrical workers (from a Canadian power company, proudly flying the Maple Leaf flag from their trucks) were surrounded by residents, shaking their hands, offering them beverages and, in the case of my next door neighbor, having pictures taken with them (no word if they broke out in a chorus of O Canada -- or La Marseillaise).

The only missing piece now -- cable TV.

Hurrah! 

Power restored at 11:54 AM!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

But Who's Counting? 

Day eleven without power.

Talked to the claims representative with my homeowner's insurance company today. She warned me that they had a lot of claims and that the adjuster would get to me just as soon as possible.

Damage to two cars = two checks from GEICO totaling $2,800.00. Now, to find a body shop that will work on the cars before 2006. Fortunately the damage is all cosmetic.

Talked with a local city commissioner today . . . he's without power, too. But Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs got her's back on yesterday. She was on local public radio and said she took an hour-long hot shower this morning.

The city left a recorded message on my voice mail today warning that if we mix vegetative debris with construction materials, they won't pick it up. Hope my son's demolished basketball goal is well hidden in the six-foot stack of tree limbs in my swale.

That's the Way You Do It 

I have a hard time taking writers like Michelle Malkin seriously; I truly believe she is just in it for the money. Even so, David Neiwert's takedown of her latest screed is worth reading.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Haven't We Seen This Before? 

Is the Bush administration making he same mistake with Venezuela that was made with Cuba?

It seems that the U.S. has stopped shipping spare parts for the F-16 fighters sold to Venezuela over two decades ago. In response, Chavez is threatening to "share" the fighters with other nations, Cuba and China being mentioned.

I doubt that there is much that either Cuba or China would gain from the transfer of these jets, but it is an indication that U.S.-Venezuela relations are heading in the wrong direction.

At the heart of the problem is Washington's refusal to admit that its free-trade, bare knuckles capitalism policies are having, at best, mixed results in Latin America (or in this country, for that matter).

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel article on this subject deals with the real issues toward the end:
Chavez said he would go to the [Summit of the Americas] with the message that Washington's "capitalist, imperialist model" was responsible for exploiting developing economies and ruining the global environment.

He also criticized U.S.-backed free-trade policies that he said make poor nations poorer while keeping them trapped in cycle of crippling debt payments.

"They make us slaves," said Chavez, pledging to oppose the U.S. plan for a Free Trade Area of the Americas and saying it would be "buried" at the summit.
Chavez is not particularly diplomatic, but that doesn't mean he lacks a point. Or that the U.S. should be trying to reach an accommodation with South American leaders who are trying to put an end to tradition of their nations being split between the super-wealthy few and the poverty-stricken masses.

Getting Around 

Day ten without power.

As stated earlier, Hurricane Wilma put every traffic light in Broward County out of service. After more than a week, over a thousand traffic signals are still not working (or in many cases, no longer exist).

As you may suspect, this has caused many, many problems in getting around on local roadways. A few major intersections have signals powered by generators and other have police controlling traffic. Most have neither.

In an effort to maintain traffic flow, a number of intersections are restricted: in some cases no let-hand turns, in others only right-hand turns allowed. A real problem with this is that almost no one knows what to expect before getting to the intersection. You may need to turn left to get home, but if that's not allowed off you go in the wrong direction.

Last night I was returning home after dark, in the rain -- what would normally be a 15 minute drive, at most, stretched into an hour ordeal. Today I'm staying at home to work.

This is not intended to be a screed against anyone in particular. I'm sure that this is probably the safest way to control traffic under the conditions.

Just another post-Wilma aggravation (along with cold showers).

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