I'm all for this country's right to free speech and assembly and protest and the like. Especially since so many Americans who see fit to protest in order to point out what is wrong with the rest of us are so stupid themselves.
Thanks to Frostfirezoo.com where I stole this photo. It's a fun site with all sorts of photographic gems like this one. Check it out!
News stories out this morning are citing a new National Intelligence report that claims Iran did indeed stop building a military nuclear weapons program in 2003. While they continue to enrich uranium, their use is for peaceful, energy production purposes says the report. In short, new US intelligence reports are backing what Iran's President Ahmadinejad has been saying for years.
The impacts of this report on the current administration are evident. Bush and Cheney had clearly turned their sites on Iran as the new Public Enemy #1. While this report isn't likely to make the average American hope that Ahmadinejad will be attending tea at the White House soon, it certainly makes the aggressive-verge of war stance held by the administration seem like over kill.
The report also has immediate impacts on the 2008 election. For one, Hillary Clinton's stance just to the left of the Administration shadow on the topic of Iran now seems ill-informed. Coupled with her bad voting record on Iraq and this makes it easy to paint Hillary as the "Bush-Cheney Light" of Obama's references.
The report also calls into question Hillary's criticism of Obama as "naive" and "irresponsible" when he offered to meet with leaders of nations like Iran once elected. Perhaps, if the current administration had been more willing to talk and less antsy to saber rattle, the past four years of war rhetoric, threats and heightened tension could have been prevented.
Obama should seize this new playing field as an opportunity to point out that talking to other leaders should always be an option. Indeed, this latest bit of information illustrates what harm jumping to conclusions and refusing to talk can mean. The current administration has left the US with a shortage of friends and no shortage of enemies. Obama's willingness to meet with other leaders doesn't mean he will let them have their way, it simply means that he recognizes that dialog beats war any day. Sitting down at a table with leaders like Ahmadinejad shows the world that the US doesn't believe we own a monopoly on truth. It is the best way to begin erasing the "Our way or the highway" mentality that has hurt our country's standings in the world over the past 7 years.
This report highlights that the world is not as black and white as Bush/Cheney - and Clinton - often insist that it is. Obama stands to gain by reminding voters that he recognized the gray areas and wanted to work within them from the beginning.
Yesterday Karl Rove offered unsolicited advice to Barack Obama via an open letter in the Financial Times. Rove encouraged Obama to "belittle" Clinton among other traditional Rovian mud-slinging techniques. The letter strikes me as absurd and ironic on several levels.
First, Rove clearly isn't paying attention to his audience and is clearly out of touch with America. Thanks to nearly a decade of Rovian politics, Americans are sick to death of the nasty, vindictive trickery that has defined Washington under the current administration. Yet, Rove pushes Obama to abandon his "high-minded" approach and get dirty. Obama is running as the outsider, the fresh face, the candidate who won't play dirty, traditional politics and it's refreshing. He's running a solid campaign and is building steam with that message. What would switching now do for him?
It would turn off the folks voting for him because he is the alternative to what they are so tired of. Obama disparaged the down and dirty nature of American politics before he even declared his candidacy. His expressed desire to restore America to her previous greatness by lifting the country above the muck is his calling card. He can't and shouldn't and, I dare say, won't abandon it now.
Second, the irony that Hillary Clinton seems to be taking Rove's advice and incorporating it into her game plan is thick. For someone who was the target of dirty political tricks and attacks for decades, Hillary doesn't seem to have a problem with such antics as long as she is not in the cross-hairs. In response to recent polls that show Obama leading in Iowa and taking a commanding lead among women voters, Hillary has begun leveling unfounded, personal and nasty accusations at Obama. She has questioned his character and accused him of buying votes and influence illegally with PAC money.
Not only has Obama not engaged in such activity, Hillary herself has on more than one occasion seemed to benefit from the endorsements and support of people she has funded. Just one example would be Iowa Governor Vilsack's endorsement if Hillary one day before she paid off nearly half a million dollars worth of his campaign debts! That is hypocrisy of which Rove would be proud.
Why has Hillary held such a commanding lead in the polls so far? Is it really because she's that likeable or that popular or offers ideas that are that earth shattering? No. It's because her last name is Clinton. Her husband was a good president. Affairs aside many Democrats would vote for Bill again in a heartbeat because he governed well. But as this campaign has gone one we've all been reminded that Hillary is no Bill. She is not likeable and, make no mistake, a vote for her won't bring Bill back. Hillary is not a shrinking violet and will not be a puppet president. So, her lead dwindles as these realizations dawn on the collective American psyche. Attacks like those coming from the Clinton camp now only serve to remind us how the Clinton political machine managed to get a country governor from a southern state elected as a Democrat amid sex and financial scandals. The Clinton's play dirty.
The question now is clearer than ever: Do you want more dirt flying around or do you want a fresh start? I believe the country truly wants a fresh start. Obama should continue campaigning as the candidate with a brighter vision of America and not as a hardened politician. As Chris Matthews said this morning - politicians aren't doing so well these days. Just ask Rove, W and Hillary.
I just learned that my alma mater, Centre College, has been selected as an alternate location for a 2008 presidential debate. BOO!
Having just graduated when we hosted the 2000 Vice Presidential debate, I was able to volunteer and was looking forward to an even more exciting time working the 2008 debate. This year's election stands to be historic no matter who the nominees are since it looks like we will have either our first woman or first African-American major party candidate.
Alas. I hope Hoffstra and Belmont understand that my hoping they fail is nothing personal.
I just came across a news story that is disturbing and absurd on so many levels. It appears that 3 young boys aged 8 and 9 years old have been arrested and charged with raping and kidnapping an 11 year old girl in Georgia.
Disturbing and Absurd Count #1: How and where do 8 and 9 year old children learn enough about sex to discover the desire to have it? When I was 8 or 9 years old I was busy playing in the creek bed behind my house and reading The Babysitters Club books. I don't remember if I'd learned about sex on any level yet but if I had I am certain I had not seen/heard/learned enough that I had enough curiosity that I wanted to add that to my to-do list between coloring Mom's birthday card and watching Sesame Street. And that doesn't even touch on where children this young learn aggression on such a level!
Disturbing and Absurd Count #2: Where were the parents? There are presumably as many as 4 sets of parents involved in this back story. Where in the h-e-double hockey sticks were they? What 8 and 9 year old children are unsupervised long enough to kidnap and rape each other? Again, I don't remember how often I had to check-in with Mom when I was that age but I feel pretty confident it was on a regular enough basis that this sort of thing couldn't have transpired.
Disturbing and Absurd Count #3: They are being charged as adults? Seriously? Seriously! Has society not failed these poor CHILDREN enough already? They are so lacking in direction and supervision that they have managed to commit rape and somehow charging them as adults, locking them up and throwing away the key for decades seems like the right answer? And we wonder why the incidence of repeat offending is so high? Well, when a misdirected, violence prone 8 year old is taken away from the only security he knows (even if those "secure" home and parents are questionable) and is thrown in with other violent youths and then, once he turns 18, in with hardened criminals, what do we really expect from him if/when he ever does get out of prison? There's obviously no good answer to this problem but charging an 8 year old as an adult should never be an option. No 8 year old appreciates the consequences of raping someone. They clearly haven't been taught that level of right and wrong.
Such stories are a sad start to a dreary Monday morning. My heart breaks for all of the children involved. Some folks point to the ability of gays to be gay legally or the possible election of Hillary Clinton as signs that the end of the world is coming. I, for one, don't really think such signs are coming. To me, God sent Jesus and he warned us then he would return one day - what more do we want. But, if I were going to look for signs that the apocalypse is coming, to me the fact that our society has become one where 8 year olds know how to rape is all I need to hit my knees and pray.
UPDATE: The authorities are now backing away from reports out this morning saying the decision on whether or not to charge these children as adults has not been made. Maybe level heads will prevail on this count.