Saturday, June 17, 2006

Two Bad Political Parties

The last few days of action in Washington are just about enough to force any good citizen to seek out the political version of AA and swear off voting. It reminds me of the joke about why an old lady doesn't vote; "It only encourages them".

Although I still believe with every fibre of my body that the U.S. effort in Iraq is more likely to fail than not, still there has been a small amount of momentum for the new government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to make a good attempt at establishing the best hope for a new government in Iraq that could gain needed international support. A wide variety of nations including China, Russia and others certainly want to peace and stability in Iraq. Well stability anyway. Peace is a relative term in the face of a 300 year history of sectarian conflict.

Certainly the death of Al Qaeda in Irag head, Zarqawi, was indeed a positive. The information seized has resulted in this organization being heavily damaged, although Al Qaeda remains the smallest of the violence and instability problems that Iraq has. And many successful U.S. raids have heavily ruined this organization for the time being. So how does Congress respond to all of this? With an ill advised and politically devision debate on Iraq, which sends a clear message that the U.S. has more than one foreign policy at the same time, rather than accepting that a few things are presenting enough of a positive that if they could only be bolstered, that maybe, just maybe, this is the best possible way for most U.S. troops to be able to eventually leave Iraq.

With some momentum in Iraq, it couldn't seem any more ill advised than I could think of for many Democrats in Congress to voice support for setting a withdrawal timetable, or Republicans seeking to offer their two cents in politically moltivated, support proposal. Wise persons should just sit tight now that some recent new momentum seems to be moving ahead in Iraq.

This hardly means that the U.S. effort in Iraq is likely to succeed. Or the new government there will find it's legs and all will be hunky dory. But the U.S. only has one foreign policy at a time, the official one of the elected government, and this government does at least deserve the opportunity to attempt to resolve some of the problems it creates for itself. Iraq is the mistake of Bush. He at least deserves the first shot at resolving the mess he created.

But ill advised Congressional meddling in foreign policy is hardly the only reason for many Americans to get that sinking feeling that they are represented by fools. Bush made a Friday campaign visit to aid the ailing campaign of Rep. Heather Wilson. As many remember, including her own voters, she was the hysterical screw-up who looked like she was having a psychiatric meltdown during testimony about the Janet Jackson-breast-Superbowl nonevent. Apparently voters don't want to be represented by the mentally unstable, and Rep. Wilson is paying the price. But Congress and even the White House can't leave this foolishness aside, and resurrected huge new "indecency" fines just this week, and of course the morally hypocritical Bush signed on.

"Indecency" is such a vague term, meaning nearly anything as the conditions are not clearly spelled out. Even relatively harmless scenes on popular programs such as WITHOUT A TRACE have been the targets of FCC action, for vague and highly questionable violations of FCC indecency standards. Very popular "shock jock", Howard Stern was forced from the public airwaves with such absurd, subjective, and movable standards. And while all Obsecenity laws also violate the clear standard set forth in the First Amendment, which clearly does not allow for any government control over a free press and free expression, nonetheless, indecency standards are a much more murky area open to an absurdly wide interpretation.

And retiring Sen. Bill Frist, is pushing ahead a "flag burning amendment" as another affront to freedom of expression, futher shreding this important principle of political expression. Along with a ban on Gay marriage proposed amendment, the Republican leadership seems obsessed with right wing lunatic issues when at least the Democrats this week did propose a serious agenda of minimum wage increases, health care cost limitations, etc. if they regain control of Congress in November.

But still a progressive voter like myself is left with a heart sinking feeling that while the Democrats offer a better social and economic agenda than the Republicans, their foreign policy is not always very realistic, and could leave Americans with far more serious problems as a result of nonaction in some critical troublespots. But on the other hand the Republican foreign policy, domestic social and economic agenda is absolutely awful for the most part. But with the late events in Iraq with the death of Zarqawi, recent raids against Al Qaeda preventing at least some outrageous deaths of Iraqi civilians, and the good attempts by the new Iraqi Prime Minister to form a coalition government and reconcile some past insurgents into support of this government, it leaves me with the impression that many of the Democrats have a foriegn policy agenda that is "not ready for prime time". If every problem that the U.S. faces is merely domestic in the next few years that would be fine. But Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and many other nations will still top the headlines. And in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the leaders of both couuntries cannot only be the "mayor" of the capital city, while lawlessness rules in most of the surrounding countryside.

Both American political parties have gone a long way to proving their severe limitations in the last two weeks. It hardly gives a voter much comfort.


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