Random Liberals

We are random liberals (who knew?). Collectively, we make up the greatest blog in the history of ourselves. We will blog about anything that suits us; mostly politics, with a little bit of religion and randomness to make the blog exciting.

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Rob
Joshua

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Al Gore

I just saw a clip of Gore's speech from Wednesday. He was saying, in a loud, boisterous, and energized voice, that Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Stephen Cambone should all resign. Watching him yell, rant, and rave (in a good, Howard Dean kind of way), I couldn't help but think: Where was this four years ago?

Robert

Faith and politics

Linda Campbell (about whom I have written before), wrote a column in Thursday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram (sorry, requires registration) discussing the recent statements by a few Catholic leaders saying that pro-choice Catholic politicians cannot receive Eucharist. As I said in the previous post about her, Campbell is one of my favorite columnists, and she did not disappoint me here:

It's possible to consider abortion evil yet believe that politicians who never will get pregnant -- much less be poor, desperate and pregnant -- should not be deciding categorically what legal options should be available for all women under all circumstances.

Unfortunately, it's easier in an election year to spotlight volatile issues rather than those that ought to be more urgent.

When Call to Renewal, a multidenominational group of religious and lay leaders dedicated to eliminating poverty, held a conference this week in Washington to put that issue on the election radar screen, neither Kerry nor President Bush attended, though both sent surrogates.

For many of us, religious faith doesn't equate with rigid ideology.

Faith shouldn't demand the Ten Commandments in every public building; it should demand a recommitment to fairness and justice for all in our society, particularly the least among us.

Faith shouldn't condemn those who don't adhere to a narrow worldview; it should guide the search for common ground in order to solve problems through tolerance, understanding and creative cooperation.

Faith should be a tool for persuasion, not for playing political chicken.


Go read the whole thing (though I've already spoiled the ending).

Robert

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Kerry to accept nomination at Convention

The Boston Herald (among others) is reporting that John Kerry will formally accept the nomination of the Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention in July, ending speculation that he might delay formally accepting until the Republican National Convention in August. He was considering the delay so that he could continue to spend unlimited amounts of money on the campaign, just as George Bush will be able to do until his convention. Instead, Kerry will have to string out the $75 million in federal money for a month longer than Bush will have to.

I'm a little disappointed that it had to turn out this way. It had the chance to be a brilliant maneuver. Kerry could have said that he would delay accepting, because the late date of the Republican convention was going to put him at a severe disadvantage. Furthermore, he could have pointed out the obvious fact that the Bush team was using the late date of their convention not only to take advantage of the campaign finance system (by not having to start using the $75 million so early), but that they are exploiting the deaths of 3000 people for political gain. I don't think I've seen one mainstream news source point that out. (I may be wrong, and if I am, correct me.)

Instead, Kerry was double-crossed. According to the article, no one was supposed to know the Kerry campaign was even thinking of waiting to accept the nomination until several weeks from now. Unfortunately, because the information was leaked early, before Kerry had actually decided what he was going to do, the decision was essentially made for him. The Republican leadership jumped all over him, claiming that he was going to play the Boston people, and that they would never do such a thing to the people of New York. As I pointed out in the above paragraph, that is obviously not true. Now, Kerry is stuck with having to string out the money. Hopefully, by the time the conventions roll around, Kerry will have a large enough lead that it won't matter.

Yeah right. Fortune is never that favorable to the Democrats.

Robert

It has been far too long

I have really dropped the ball on this blogging thing. My apologies.

First, exciting news: I am going to the Texas Democratic Convention as a full delegate. When last I wrote here, I still thought I was going to be an alternate. Last week, I found out that one of the delegates from my precinct cannot go, so I am taking her place. The convention is going to be in Houston, at the downtown convention center. I am going to run for a spot on the platform committee. Failing that, I will run for a spot on the resolutions committee. I want to be as fully involved in this as possible.

By the way, if there are any planks readers would like to see on the Texas Democratic Party platform, let me know. If it's something I believe in, but hadn't yet thought of, I'll see what I can do. Assuming I can get myself elected to the committee. Here's hoping.

Robert

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Morons in This World

I cannot fathom what some people are thinking about the abuses at Abu Ghraib. They're not offended that our soldiers are taking advantage of the prisoners, they're offended because our oh-so "brilliant" president apologized.

First of all, Bush didn't even apologize when he first spoke about the abuses. Then Shrub apologized to King Abdullah II of Jordan, not the Iraqi Governing Council or the Iraqi people. Notice a pattern? Bush is pressured to do something and he gives in (that is if it makes him look good).

People in America are disgusted because President Bush apologized? Pardon me while I go beat my head against the wall. How thick can people be? Are the American people so desensitized to the outside world that we can brush off something as horrible as abuse to HUMAN BEINGS? Yes, the Iraqi prisoners are human beings; they have families, jobs; they have feelings.

This stupidity is not just limited to ordinary people, it seems that some politicians and famous people took stupid pills when Abu Ghraib came up. Senator James Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh are a couple that come to mind at the moment. All I can hope for for the future is that people will be more open to what's really going on in the world.

Monday, May 10, 2004

No more SOB

This past weekend, I met with a few people in order to help start a group called "No More Son of a Bush." It is a group for young political activists who wish to see George Bush's sorry butt ridden out of Washington on a rail. We are going to try to reach out to young potential voters in the area, and get them to first register to vote, and then vote for John Kerry. To that end, we want to put together a pair of concerts. The first one would be close to the deadline for registering to vote, and the entry fee to the concert would be registering at the front (or bringing your voter registration card, if you had already registered). The second concert would be on election night, and the entry fee would be proof that you voted (most polling places have "I voted!" stickers, or something similar). We are also wanting to send out fliers to potential voters who may not have all of the information on Bush and Kerry.

Anyone in the Tarrant County, TX area who would be interested in joining or getting information about No More SOB can e-mail me at randomliberal@email.com, or our fearless leader Vanessa at nomoresob@yahoo.com, or say so in the comments of this post. Also, if you have money just kind of floating around that you would like to donate to our organization (doubtful, I know), again let me know. I will send you whatever you need to confirm that, yes, we really are a political organization, and no, I won't just take your money and spend it all on booze and women.

Robert

Friday, May 07, 2004

Baghdad Burning

Go read this. It is from Baghdad Burning, a blog which I have referenced before. In case you don't know, it's written by a woman in her mid-20s who lives in Baghdad. In writing about her own reactions to Abu Ghraib, she captures the outrage of many average Iraqis. I can't really add anything to it.

Robert

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bush apologizes

Bush said today that he apologized to Jordan's King Abdullah II for the atrocities in Abu Ghraib prison. Also, he stood behind Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying that Rumsfeld "is an important part of my Cabinet, and he'll stay in my Cabinet."

I'm glad he finally actually apologized. As for Rumsfeld, we'll see what Bush has to say after Rumsfeld testifies in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and then meets with the entire Senate in private afterward.

Robert

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Bush appears to be unhappy

In a somewhat surprising development, President Bush is expressing "annoyance" with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Bush is upset with how Rumsfeld, and the Department of Defense in general, has handled the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. According to the linked article, Bush has said that he knew of general accusations of abuse of prisoners as far back as January, but did not know the extent of the abuse until 60 Minutes II released photographs depicting the humiliation of prisoners last Wednesday. According to one source, "some senior administration officials thought Rumsfeld would lose his job over the matter..." (A direct quote from the article, not the source.) There have been a smattering of voices from the legislature calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, but not near enough to make a ripple.

It appears to me that President Bush is now beginning to express an annoyance with everyone and everything. Last week, he jumped on Attorney General John Ashcroft for declassifying several documents for the sole purpose of embarrassing 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. Now, it's Rumsfeld. Next week, it could be a general, or another cabinet member. The only person that will never feel the president's wrath is Bush himself. He can never admit that he is to blame for anything. He is perfect in his own eyes. This fleshes out not only in his lashing out at cabinet members, but also in his refusal to apologize for anything. Today, he was interviewed on two Arabic-language networks, al-Arabiya and U.S.-operated al-Hurra (but not al-Jazeera, which Bush thinks is too anti-American); he would not even offer an apology while speaking directly to Arabs. This man has far too much self-pride to be president.

Rumsfeld is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate (update: the Armed Services Committee, not the entire Senate) on Friday about the handling of the allegations. I'm not sure if the hearing will be broadcast on anything other than C-SPAN, but if you have a chance, watch or listen to the hearing. It could prove very interesting.

UPDATE: Also, according to the article and tonight's Nightline, It is not only the congressional Democrats, but also the Republicans that are very upset with the Pentagon's attempts to keep the allegations of abuse quiet. Apparently, most of the members of Congress knew about as much as Bush knew before Wednesday, which is to say not much at all. Bill Frist made a speech calling for Rumsfeld to meet with the entire Senate in private in addition to his testimony on Friday, which will just be in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not the entire Senate as I implied above.

Nightline also had a segment on a pair of psychological studies conducted in the 1960s and '70s. One, held 30+ years ago, was a study conducted by Stanford psychologists in which a group of average, good people were randomly divided into prisoners and guards. After a couple of days, the guards began to humiliate the prisoners in various ways, culminating in forcing the prisoners to simulate sodomy. The study was ended after only six days. The second study, conducted 40+ years ago, looked at how far people were willing to go when given orders. A random group of people was asked to administer electric shock to an anonymous prisoner. The prisoner was not actually shocked, but the person giving the shock was led to believe he was. 60% of the group went all the way, administering 450 volts of electricity while the prisoner was supposedly unable to even respond to questions.

The studies show that the people who tortured prisoners in Abu Ghraib are not evil people, as the administration would have us believe. Rather, chances are that they are nromal people. This in no way excuses them for their actions. Instead, it shows that this is almost definitely not an isolated event. It shows without a doubt that power corrupts. Other people in other prisons that we don't know about are being tortured. When will the White House and the Pentagon acknowledge that? Will they ever acknowledge it, or will we just have to wait for the next round of photographs? Further, is there anything that can be done to stop the torture before more lives are ruined?

Robert

Monday, May 03, 2004

Abu Ghraib

According to this article from Reuters, six officers involved in the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison have been given written reprimands, and a seventh got a less serious written admonishment for their abuses. According to the same article, six regular soldiers are the subject of criminal investigations that will likely result in courts-martial.

I do not understand why the regular soldiers are subject to courts-martial, but the officers are not. This appears to be selective prosecution, trying to make it appear as though the abuses are not systemic, but rather the work of a few deranged, sick individuals. I do not deny that that is the case, but I do not think these are just isolated events. It does not do to conceal what has happened in Abu Ghraib. There should be a full-blown, public investigation, with no rock left unturned. I realize that this seems fairly obvious, but the Bush administration does not think so. They want to just blame the grunts, quietly dismiss the officers, and move on. (The reprimands will probably result in the termination of the offending officers careers, but without the public humiliation that the regular soldiers are going to receive.) I am not saying this because I do not think the regular soldiers derserve to be court-martialed; they should be. Rather, I say this because I think that the officers deserve to be court-martialed as well. If the officers ordered or tolerated the abuse of prisoners, then they are just as responsible as those who actually committed the abuse.

Robert