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Glare, Grouchy

[Politics] Different Standards and Dirty Pool

(Grr. LJ is pretty busted right now, I may have to post this in the morning.)

So here I am reading through my electronic-delivery New York Times as I usually do around this time of evening. Some of the articles make me thoughtful, some I look at and think 'wow, this op-ed writer is pretty biased to one side or the other,' and some just make me angry. (For those who don't want to register for NYT online, check out BugMeNot at http;//www.bugmenot.com -- useful tool.)

First we have an article (perhaps somewhat biased) on the potentially backfiring fearmongering comment Cheney made implying that if he and Bush weren't re-elected, the terrorists would attack again. Yes, it's just a stronger variant on what the campaign was already doing, but it's still sad to see this election become fearmongering and mudslinging rather than any actual discussion of issues.

Granted, I'm already in the '(almost) anyone but Bush' camp, but for the sake of our electoral process I would've loved to hear Bush talk more about actual policy plans he has rather than just making wild, inaccurate claims and leveling sort of hypocritical accusations at Kerry and his camp. Granted, hypocrisy seems to be the name of the game this election, and Kerry is only playing 'less dirty' in comparison to the sheer volume of mudslinging Bush and his supporters are throwing around.

But moving along, maybe the rabid attacks have helped distract from new documents which show Bush received preferential treatment during his service in the National Guard, including a memo from 1970 from the colonel who Bush served under, protesting that while Bush did not meet performance standards and he wanted to suspend him from flight status, superiors wanted him to give Bush a favorable review anyway.

Of course, the White House calls the release of these memos politically motivated and claims that the Kerry campaign is supporting Texans for Truth, the group spreading this information, and that this is against campaign law. Funny, weren't those the same claims made by the Kerry campaign about Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and dismissed by the White House? Not that I'd put it past the Democratic campaign to be slipping money to these folks -- it seems to be the way the game is played this year -- but what was that I said above about hypocrisy?

Then again, we have Republicans angry at their party because the ban on the sale of semiautomatic weaponry (which was supported by former President Reagan and signed into law by former President Clinton) expires next week, and though 66% or more of Americans support the ban being renewed, and Bush himself has declared his support for that, the House majority leader has said even if the President were to ask, the Republican majority in Congress will let the ban expire, because 'it's what the people want.' The White House basically brushed it off, saying 'Congress sets their priorities and goals, not the president.' Which, while it may be somewhat true, makes it sound as if the president is unable to affect lawmakers in any way whatsoever (even when his party has a majority), and sure makes it seem hypocritical for them to blame any Democratic president ever for any law passed during said president's term in office.

But hypocrisy and playing dirty seem to be the catchphrase of this election, don't they?

Then in more general news we have an article about the troops who aren't coming back, which is a good read but includes a rather harrowing bit about the fact that National Guard troops being called up are being sent over without sufficient training or equipment. Real Army get armored Humvees, National Guard have Humvees reinforced with plywood and sandbags. The Oregon National Guard has had complaints from their members who are called to active duty and sent for training that not only do the regular troops get better equipment, but the regular troops get three meals a day at training, while the National Guard folks are given only two.

But the Bush administration isn't willing to undo the tax cuts they gave the very wealthy in order to fund better equipment for the military, because that would 'slow financial growth.' Booyah. Whether or not we should be in Iraq, we're there now and the men and women of our armed services are dying due to lack of proper equipment, but at least our bank accounts will be nicely padded.

Now, I'm not thrilled with the Kerry campaign either. I don't like picking the lesser of two evils. But my sappy liberal Democratic leanings aside, the simple truth is that to my mind, Kerry is still the /lesser/ of two evils.

Man, do I ever miss Howard Dean.


Just something to think about:

The way the National Guard worked during Bush's enlistment is simple. You have a certain amount of "points" (for time served) which you must meet in each year's worth of enlistment period. You need a minimum of 50 points per time period. Once you've served that period, you do not have to appear until the next time period - you can go ahead and go anyway, if you'd like to, but it is not mandantory.

Bush put in 200 points per time period, four times the amount required to have fully served his time in the National Guard. He then went back to normal day-to-day life afterwards, having served above and beyond the minimum time limit. He went to college; he raised a family and did other stuff. That's typical for off-duty guardsmen.

He broke no rules by doing this, either; if his former commander is now claiming that he "never showed up", it seems that there's something else that's not being said. Sure, he didn't see combat lines, but he did do his service, such as it is.

Admittedly, it isn't as impressive as wartime service, but the National Guard is a voluntary service, rather than a full-time career service like the other branches of the military. Yes, in times of war, National Guard units can and have been called up (as seen by the supply issues you mentioned) and pulled into active duty. However, in any other time period, they are not considered "active" in the same way; they serve their required time, and some serve more than their required time, and they then continue on with normal life. This does not apply just to "famous" folk, either - it applies to any National Guard, regardless of who they are.

I'm not thrilled with either campaign, but I admit that, when I read that article about Bush's service, I had to read it with a hint of amusement - it was apparently not written by someone familiar with the National Guard. I've got too many friends in that branch of our armed forces /not/ to be at least somewhat familiar with it, and while it's changed a bit over the years - for example, now they have hours-served and days-served instead of a points system - it's still essentially the same thing: you go in, you serve your time (which is usually doing military maneuvers in the desert, at least in California), and then you go home at the end of the weekend/week/whatever.

Of course, if a Guard unit is called up into active service, it becomes a completely different matter as well; I don't remember whether they're considered an extension of the Army or of a different branch of the service, but I do believe that once activated, a Guard unit falls under the auspices of another service branch. I may be wrong on this, however.

Anyhow, I've rambled enough - thought you might wanna know that little tidbit of military trivia. :)
The article seemed to be trying to say (if I understood it properly) that Bush was given points without going to anything to earn them. I.e., he didn't show up for required things (like required drills) and thus didn't earn his points, but was credited for more because of the favor of people above his colonel in the chain of command. I may be misunderstanding, either way.

Whether or not that's true, it's akin to the claims being made about Kerry's military service. Bush's campaign is claiming that Kerry is backing these folks in spirit because Kerry supporters are funding Texans for Truth... right after we spent a month or more with Bush's campaign folks denying that they had any tie to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth even though members of his staunchest supporters were funding those people.

That's what bothers me the most. This whole "not our problem, don't need to condemn it, gosh it's a shame but what can you do?" when it's some group being funded by his supporters smearing Kerry, but then suddenly it's "Kerry is breaking campaign finance law because these people are being funded by groups aligned with Kerry's campaign such as MoveOn.org."

That's hypocrisy so glaring it's blinding, whether or not either claim is true. And the Bush campaign comes off looking way worse on this one, whether by chance or actuality.

At any rate, I sleep now.
The article seemed to be trying to say (if I understood it properly) that Bush was given points without going to anything to earn them.

That is exactly the impression you're supposed to get. After all, the media has fallen away from those pesky things like presenting facts. Truth in the media is what has taken the largest hit this election cycle, and more than any 527 group or who served where during Vietnam, that will turn out to be the real story of this election.

Let's face it, anyone out there who believes that there are not supporters of Bush in the Swift Boat Vets, and supporters of Kerry in Moveon.org, is living in a fantasy world. That each would get donations from people who donate to the respective parties is not a shock at all. But I'd wager that the most ardent supporters in both are more in the 'anyone but [Bush/Kerry]' crowd than 'I really support [Bush/Kerry]'.

Take for example the oft quoted Barnes. Top ten google news references has nine out of ten using the following edited quote: 'I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard ... and I'm not necessarily [snip]' whereas the quote is only accurately made in one story: 'I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard when I was Lieutenant Governor of Texas, and I'm not necessarily [snip]'

The 'when I was Lieutenant Governor of Texas,' has been edited out of the stories, even though it was part of the raw video, because Barnes wasn't Lt. Governor until the year after Bush entered into the Texas Air National Guard.

Kerry doesn't need something like the Swift Boat Vets because the media is doing that job for him. And I'd give up my laptop for life if someone can prove that the White House would rather talk about who served where during the Vietnam war instead of the thirty years following.

But hey, since we're on the topic of absence, and we're hopefully finally resolved to not talking about the Vietnam era (and if you want to continue that, fine, we'll wonder together where Kerry's reserve duty records are for after he returned from Vietnam), why don't we talk about Kerry's absence in the Senate? How about all those Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meetings that Kerry missed..? Or the number of votes he's cast in the Senate this past year (what, two, maybe three?) Or the number of bills he's sponsored in Congress? Or how about his service as Lt. Governor under Dukakis? Or how about one of Kerry's many floor speeches, perhaps one about Bill Clinton, or Christmas? Perhaps one of those many filmed or video'd interviews he's given in the past 20 years?

I feel another revelation coming in tomorrow's newspaper about the Vietnam era. Don't you?
And as a complete aside, could someone please explain to me, somewhere along the line, where the hell the DNC felt that Kerry would be more electable than anyone else running for president, most especially Howard Dean or Joe Lieberman?

I know Howard was another who fell victim to the media, but please, someone was dipping way too deep into the medical marijuana when they figured that Kerry was a grand choice.
If you can explain Kerry to me, then maybe you can also explain Bush to me, as well.

Who comes UP with these morons? I'm still debating voting for Dave Barry.
I can't explain Kerry or Bush to you, because neither would be anywhere close to my first choice for a President, not even of my high school reunion class. Only thing Bush has going for him is personal honesty, umm, I'm still working on what Kerry has going for him aside from a pulse.

Dave Berry? In a hot second, though I doubt many people would be too pleased with his decisions in office. He'd reflect much more the average American's views, something that neither party can lay claim to anymore...

Actually, I can't think of a party that can lay claim to that anymore. Take a national poll on any issue, and virtually any minority opinion will be reflected by the parties. Illegals? Sure, the Democrats want them to get citizenship immediately, the Republicans just want them to become legal. Guns? One party wants a military style rifle in every home, the other wants every gun banned including toys.

How about something as basic as property rights? Neither party believes that someone should be able to have the right to own their own property, they both believe that holding onto land is something that is losely permitted by the government.

Stupidity is the word of the day.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people; it's just that none of us are the 'right' kind of people.
Only thing Bush has going for him is personal honesty...

Gary? My friend, please don't take this the wrong way, but...

Personal honesty? Bush? If Bush has personal honesty, then the other possible option from my viewpoint is that the man makes your average inanimate building materials look like Einstein. If I assume any IQ, the man lies more than a living room carpet.

Hussein had ties to Al Queda? Oh, please. And these weapons of mass destruction which were the entire justification given to the American people and the UN for going into Iraq, which now we seem to admit we're never going to find? Hrm.

Either the man's so dumb his advisors and suchnot can put one over on him /consistently/, given how often one thing is said and another proves to be true, /or/ he lies with a smile to get his way. Now, I'm willing to grant that Bush may genuinely be an honest, but phenomenally stupid and trusting, individual and Cheney and Rove are the ones lying through their teeth using him as their mouthpiece. But someone in charge is, either way.
If Bush is an idiot for believing it, or has no personal honesty, let's look and see who he has as a companion to it...

Kerry Calls for Ground Troops to Topple Saddam; Clinton Not Tough Enough
February 23, 1998
The Boston Globe by Aaron Zitner, Globe Staff

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry, who began his public life as a Vietnam War protester, said yesterday that the United States should use ground troops to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein if he does not comply with international demands to give up chemical and biological weapons.

Kerry, a potential presidential candidate in 2000, said sending US troops into Iraq should be "the last option, but it is a legitimate option."

The state's junior senator said President Clinton had not been tough enough in his measures to subdue the Iraqi president.

Because Iraq will try to rebuild its chemical and biological weaponry after a US air attack, "we will not eliminate the problem for ourselves or for the rest of the world with a bombing attack," Kerry said.

Kerry said his conditional support for using ground troops put him "way ahead of the commander in chief, and I'm probably way ahead of my colleagues, and certainly of much of the country. But I believe this."

December 16th, 1998

Presidential Address to the Nation (as recorded on the PBS.org website.)


Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

(read the rest at pbs.org)

Ok, so, where do we find a presidential canidate that either isn't an idiot or has enough personal honesty to the job? Because the last two obviously don't, and neither does the one who hopes to pick up the job. Enough on the damn WMDs.
I could go on here about how it's foolish to say 'Clinton had the potential for the same scandals so he should be regarded the same as Bush.' Bush is the one up for re-election, not Clinton. From my viewpoint, whether or not I agreed with his actions there, Clinton didn't bring in ground troops at this level or end up with 1,000 dead American soldiers; to say they are the same thing is like comparing someone who beat up another person and stole their wallet to someone who shot up a bank and made off with the vault contents. Both may be wrong, but there's a rather striking matter of degree.

I could go on about how I feel the Bush administration has fostered an environment of fear and distrust; they've implied that only they can save us from terrorists (or more than implied; witness Cheney's quote), they've used their 'terror alert' as a way to keep people on edge, and that the Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security can be little more than official sanction to engage in racist harassment.

And I'm sure for every argument or opinion I have, you'll have one of your own to counter it. That the Bush administration themselves aren't responsible for the actions of individual Homeland Security officers, that the environment of fear is overstated, etc.

Your arguments are not going to convince me, and mine are not going to convince you. I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. I've got to get back to work, and neither of us is going to convince the other we're right or wrong, so it's just going to get frustrating.

You support Bush ("the evil we know") simply because he's not Kerry, I support Kerry ("ANYONE has to be better than this") simply because he's not Bush; we can argue our viewpoints until the cows come home, but it will always boil down to that in the end, and no matter what we say to each other, we're not going to sway on those viewpoints. C'est la vie, and we'll each vote our conscience come election day.
I'll certainly respect the concept that we agree to disagree.

And I'm certain that we can agree that we'd much rather have any other choice come this November, and in particular, we both could have agreed on Howard Dean.
Mmm, Dean.
Man, do I ever miss Howard Dean.

No shit. We need somebody that can get fired up, be just a little abrasive, isn't afraid to not only change his mind but stand up and say, "Yeah, I got new data, I changed my mind, WHY SHOULDN'T I?" and dare the press to say boo about it...

That's the hell of it, isn't it? The problem is that Kerry is just your garden-variety evil, where Bush is t3H f1r$+ 3333v1LLL to be banished at all costs... and a decent guy like Dean gets squished. Argh.
Let us not forget that Dean also had an economic record to actually run on, showing success where almost every other governor failed.
Congress could easily pass the 'sexy rifle ban' tomorrow if the DNC actually wanted to pass it. The DNC doesn't want to tick off the NRA again, not when they lost congress so quickly after the ban was enacted.

Both parties are content to let it lapse away...

I do find it amusing, though, that the media loves to play video from the California bank robbery as a reason to keep the ban in effect - after all, the much more strict California ban isn't affected in the slightest.

You know, the whole assault weapon thing reminds me of the fight for medical marijuana. We must ban all drugs because someone might abuse it, just like we must ban all guns less someone might abuse it. At least guns have some slight protection in the constitution.
Drugs do to, being as how they are not mentioned anywhere in the constitution, leaving that legal decision in the hands of the individual states, not the Federal government.
That never stopped someone from putting up a law, or a judge from making a ruling. It would be rather nice to scrap a whole load of legislation that has no business being there.

I remember when Congress used to actually pretend that they knew what that constitution was and played the game of 'Do this, or we'll cut off your [insert anything] funding.'
Man, do I ever miss Howard Dean.

Was it the Gore endorsement that wound up being the kiss of death? If not, what happened there, exactly?
Is that icon, by any chance, taken from a certain picture of a certain someone's first hangover, at a certain con, taken by a certain ME? And didn't you threaten my life if I ever showed it to anyone (a threat I promptly ignored)??

Heehee! You're so cute!
Given that there was no hope in hell of destroying all copies of the picture, I adopted the same approach I did when my friends teasingly called me 'Sparks' after the movie Contact came out. Namely, take it to heart.

(Actually, I just didn't have anything else suitable for a 'grouchy' userpic.)