politics


Assessing the Bush years | The frat boy ships out | The Economist
I know I said I would try to be more positive in my entries but I just couldn’t help myself. On this day of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, I find it strangely comforting that a publication as conservative as the The Economist is more than willing to comment on the deficiencies of “W” and his administration and legacy.

Mr Bush relied heavily on a small inner core of advisers. The most important of these was Dick Cheney, who quickly became the most powerful vice-president in American history. Mr Cheney used his mastery of bureaucracy to fill the administration with his protégés and to control the flow of information to the president. He pushed Mr Bush forcefully to the right on everything from global warming to the invasion of Iraq; he also fought ruthlessly to expand the power of the executive branch, which he thought had been dangerously restricted since Watergate.

The two other decisive figures were Karl Rove, Mr Bush’s longtime political guru, and Donald Rumsfeld, his defence secretary. Mr Rove was obsessed by pursuing his dream of a rolling Republican realignment, subordinating everything to party politics. Mr Rumsfeld regarded the Iraq war not, like his boss, as an exercise in democracy-building, but as an opportunity to test the model of an “agile military” that he was pioneering at the Pentagon.

The fruit of all this can be seen in the three most notable characteristics of the Bush presidency: partisanship, politicisation and incompetence. Mr Bush was the most partisan president in living memory. He was content to be president of half the country—a leader who fused his roles of head of state and leader of his party. He devoted his presidency to feeding the Republican coalition that elected him.

This is a great article and well worth the read. It’s refreshing to read a point of view from outside the states.

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At this point, I don’t care how you vote as much as I care that you do cast your vote. Don’t waste your power. Register to vote online at www.maps.google.com/vote. Many deadlines expire soon (October 4). If you’ve registered but don’t know your polling place or if you need to vote absentee ballot, this site will help you with that information, too.

Do it – no excuses are acceptable.

US Elections – Times Online – WBLG: A town called Obama

Thousands of Pacific miles might separate residents of an isolated fishing town on Japan’s snowy west coast from the buzz of the US election campaign but that hasn’t prevented them from taking an avid interest in the fortunes of one candidate – the young Illinois senator with whom the ancient community shares its name.

Obama, Japan has been thoroughly infected by the mania surrounding its accidental namesake and is mounting an astonishing display of support for the man who hopes to become America’s first black president.

The main hotel is splattered with posters hailing Obama, while his image will grace headbands and T-shirts currently in production. Sweet bean “manju” cakes bearing Obama’s portrait are being prepared by local confectioners, and the town of 32,000 has even held special primary night parties to celebrate his victories.

This is from the London Times – I’ve taken to reading it’s RSS feed daily (sometimes hourly) since it has such a different POV. This is the kind of “political” story I really enjoy.

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US State Quarters

D.C. Gets 25 Cents’ Worth of Respect – washingtonpost.com

The District has no vote in Congress, its laws can be trampled by federal legislators and even its streets can be closed by the feds on a moment’s notice.

But after nearly 10 years of fighting, the city finally won a new mark of respect this week.

It will have its very own quarter. The measure, tucked into a giant federal spending bill, puts the District on the same level as the 50 states, at least when it comes to the popular coins showcasing home-state icons such as mountains, birds, race cars and fiddles. The D.C. quarter is due in 2009, with a design yet to be determined.

“Can you believe it? How many years have I tried to get that?” exulted the city’s congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who has repeatedly introduced bills to get the District a place on the quarter’s flip side.

Despite Norton’s vigorous lobbying and arm-twisting, it was not the District’s quest for equality that ultimately carried the day.

It was Puerto Rico’s.

Yes, the District doesn’t get any respect. People in and outside of the region belittle it everyday. I don’t think that most Americans know that it’s a city without true representation that must endure indignities no state would tolerate.

So what should be on the DC Quarter? Evidently, portraits and flags are not allowed or else I would say Frederick Douglas. I’m certain they will pick something safe like the Capitol, the Washington Monument or some cherry blossom trees. I think it should be simple: “Taxation Without Representation”.

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Bloggers who risked all to reveal the junta’s brutal crackdown in Burma – Times Online

The realities of political oppression made life difficult. A blogger who posted a photograph of a demonstration found herself arrested, questioned and her computer seized.

On domestic blogs, they were able to express themselves only indirectly. The blogger nicknamed Sun, for example, posted quotations from a famous Burmese memoir of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, full of observations about how to live with dignity under a brutal regime.

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The regime responded, first by blocking individual Burmese blogs, then, last Wednesday, by blocking all of them. But the overseas sites were beyond its reach, so on Friday it switched off the internet altogether. Now e-mails can be sent only within Burma; the only pages that web browsers can view are those of the official websites.

The only solution now would be to dial up ISPs overseas but the cost of international calls makes this prohibitive. As Superman puts it: “Now Burma is like the Stone Age.”

You can watch it from the TV but these people are living with the oppression in Burma and taking the risk of reporting it to the world. I admire their tenacity and bravery.

They make the rest of us look trivial – and we are.

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Newsvine – Pranksters Wrap Rove’s Car

White House pranksters wrapped Rove’s Jaguar in plastic wrap on the
private driveway next to the West Wing. Rove’s car is easily recognizable because of its “I love Barack Obama” bumper sticker and the twin stuffed-animal eagles on the trunk. Oh, and there’s a stuffed-animal elephant on the hood.

Rove, the top White House political strategist who recently announced his resignation, left his car on the driveway while visiting Texas and traveling with President Bush. He was due back in Washington Wednesday evening.

The “I love Barak Obama” sticker is a great touch. Is that government owned plastic wrap? Did these insiders do the job on company time? Possibly the best days work from the White House in a long time.

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Do you think we can get someone who will uphold the Constitution and not just cater to the President?

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