Monday, December 31, 2007

Some thoughts from the past 12 months

2007 started with such promise - there would be “big changes” - or so we were told. And on some levels (mainly personal), it has delivered - I still have my job (and it is better than at the beginning of the year), YKos was great, I have a baby on the way....but in the world of politics and around the world, things don’t look as rosy as we may have thought back when a new Congress took session. Some of this is the fault of Democratic leadership, a lot of this is the fault of Bush and the republican party, or the corporate media, or the fault of nobody. But, a lot did go on this past year, and all I can say is that I hope 2008 holds out more in terms of delivery and less in terms of broken promises, frustration, disappointment, bewilderment and lowered expectations.

The 3,000th US military death in Iraq was just before the new year. There were promises of a “new Congress in town” and a change of direction in Iraq. Another close to $200 billion was approved during the year for “continuing operations” with absolutely no real change in direction. The “surge” has been an absolute failure - a reduction in deaths due to sectarian cleansing and voluntary temporary stop in violence by al Sadr’s militia with no political benchmarks met is no success in any way.

A new record was set in the Senate by republicans on filibustering. Except that it suddenly wasn’t called a “filibuster” anymore. It was now the conventional wisdom that you “need 60 votes for anything” and votes can fail with 58 votes in favor. Amid the record obstruction, there were cries for bipartisanship and to let bygones be bygones. Of course, that meant letting a new Attorney General through even though he wouldn’t comment on torture being torture.

As for “bipartisanship”, we had a veto of SCHIP which most of Congress and the American people were in favor of. There were appointments and near appointments of people who were quite possibly the worst possible candidate for the position that Bush was appointing them to. More bipartisanship showed when many brave Democrats joined with the republicans to condemn (and some others) - and the favor was returned when Rush Limbaugh was condemned praised on the Senate floor for calling certain troops “phony”.

Impeachment was pulled off the table immediately - opening up the door for the complete abrogation of duties by both Congressional Democrats and republicans alike. E-mails were “mistakenly deleted”. Servers were “lost”. Subpoenas were issued, then ignored. Stern letters were written, which were promptly thrown out upon receipt. Documented proof of torture was found out to have been destroyed to protect those who did the torturing.

Major widespread illegal wiretapping and data collection was uncovered but since impeachment was off the table, it only made sense to try and push through a bill that would give retroactive immunity to anyone that broke the law. Ironically, this was a “fix” to another law that was hastily passed and would give more powers to a President who had admitted to impeachable offenses.

War with Iran was somehow averted (for now), despite claim after claim and excuse after excuse and lie after lie was thrown out - each time to be smacked down but then trotted out again in a different form. The intelligence community finally stood up to the neoconservatives and spoke the truth about Iran and its nuclear weapons program, only to be “discredited” by the same people who were able to strong arm the “evidence” back in 2002 and 2003. And nobody is making the link to Valerie Plame’s outing to the lack of any intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program after 2002.

Afghanistan is still an ignored disaster. Pakistan is still an ignored disaster, only to get worse. Saudi Arabia was (and may still be) arming Sunni insurgents who have been killing our troops and shooting down our helicopters. Not to be outdone, we are arming Sunni insurgents who were killing our troops if they only promise to kill al Qaeda instead.

We learned that “illegal aliens” (because “undocumented immigrants” just isn’t all that scary) is the biggest threat to this country since gays who wanted to get married. One of the Presidential candidates (regardless of who actually wins the republican nomination) will want the biggest fence ever keeping those dirty Mexicans out, a quadrupling of the size of Gitmo, more torture and will bring an ideology that would make Ghengis Khan and the KKK proud.

The bold new direction in Iraq has become an “if” as opposed to a “when”. “Compromise” now means “republicans and Bush don’t have to give an inch - all they have to do is whine and stomp their feet”. Actions that are blatantly illegal are excused if the one committing the acts steps down or resigns - only to find a different place or way to commit more crimes.

The middle class is broke. The country is broke. The financial situation is precarious at best. The housing market is a mess. The healthcare system is even worse. The environmental issues have been discovered to be worse than previously thought. Americans are getting fatter, lazier, dumber - and are falling behind other countries in most categories. Our military is broken - our troops can’t do any more than they have been.

The Constitution is still under attack. Election integrity has no elements of integrity. The Justice Department is more concerned with vengeance and revenge than justice. Any progressive legislation (or any legislation that doesn’t meet Bush’s strict standard of “this is exactly what I want) gets vetoed and falls by the wayside - all due to a “lack of votes”. Symbolic victories have become the goal in many instances, and a Congressional minority has dictated the direction of legislation.

“Just wait until we have a majority” has become “we need 60 votes” which has become “we don’t have a veto proof majority” - all of which have really become symbols for disappointment, and why there is talk of a third party candidacy as being “viable”.

Well, a New Year starts in just a few short hours, and I hear that it holds such promise. Too bad it will start as 2007 did - with the marking of another 1,000 US troop deaths in Iraq. But since Iraq isn’t an issue for people anymore - it is really “just a number”, right?


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