According to this article in the New York Times, the Senate actually failed to end debate on the renewal of the PATRIOT Act today, leaving open the possibility that no action will be taken before the bill expires on December 31. Responses from the bills supporters were, of course, unsurprising. From the article: Another supporter of the bill, Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, asserted that if the Patriot Act had been in place before Sept.
So the Iraqis are voting, and by most accounts, things seem to be going fairly well. Huzzah for the Iraqis. Yeah, see, here’s the thing. For those of us who opposed invading Iraq in the first place, it is very difficult now to argue against those (COUGHthewhitehouseCOUGH) who say thing like, “Now the Iraqis are voting in free and fair elections. Would you rather have them still under the brutal and tyrannical thumb of Saddam Hussein?
Of course, the big news is that Dick Cheney had to fly home and vote for the first time in two years in the Senate in not one, but two votes, as the Republicans pulled out very trick in their dirty little book of shenanigans to ram legislation through. Once again, while I don’t agree with him on a number of issues, I have to give a big hells-yeah to Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has turned out to be great tactician.
You’ll pardon me if I am highly amused by the fact that Tom Delay is accusing anyone of being “an unabashed partisan zealot”. Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot. Truly a textbook example of “It takes one to know one.”
I’ll admit, I was rather shocked to read the headline “North Korea Says It Will Drop Nuclear Efforts for Aid Program” in this morning’s New York Times. Could I have been wrong all this time, I wondered, in my assumption that the Bush administration and its negotiators weren’t terribly interested in honest-to-god negotiations? Could they have actually done something right for a change? Then I looked into the actual details of the agreement (and I used the word “details” reluctantly).
What comes next? Worster? Worstest? Worstester? Worchestershire? I had to turn off NPR on the way in to work today because I just couldn’t listen to one more story about someone who had lost everything and is now wandering flooded streets in fear of looters and armed gangs. Yes, I know, “turning off the news” is a luxury that people on the Gulf Coast don’t have. I’ve been thinking more about what I wrote yesterday regarding the Bush administration, its role in the preparation (or lack thereof) for Katrina’s landfall, and its reaction thereto.
Well, I, for one, am filled with confidence. Yes, I can hear it already: “Now is not the time for partisan politics, the focus should be on helping a city devastated by natural forces, blah blah blah…” The problem is that when the Bush administration and its supporters make these statements, what they actually mean is, “Now is the time for us to use this situation to promote our own political agenda and to discredit the opposition, and anyone who points this out, or suggests that maybe we’re not doing everything we can, or that we didn’t bother to prepare for this situation, or that we’re doing a piss-poor job of reacting to it now is a dirty rotten liar who hates America and freedom, and who probably has sex with dogs.
I don’t know how much press this is getting outside of New York, but there is currently a fight going on between George Pataki, the increasingly unpopular Republican governor of New York, and the New York Post, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid. The Post recently published transcripts of phone conversations between, among other people, the Governor’s wife, his appointments secretary, and former NY Senator Alfonse D’amato. While there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly groundbreaking on the tapes, they’ve cause a kerfuffle due to the possibility illegality of the taping, as well as the First Lady’s foul mouth.
Zakaria’s basic point is that while liberal democracy tends to be the best form of government for promoting individual freedom and fostering economic growth, simply implementing democracy (e.g., open elections) in countries that have not had time to build up the social, political, and economic structures to support it is not enough. Too often, he says, holding elections in countries with no history of liberal democracy results in despotic and quasi-Fascist governments coming to power.
I realized after completing the previous post that I provided no evidence to support my claim that the Bush administration had pretty much gutted FEMA as a disaster-preparedness agency. See this article from the Independent Weekly for a depressing but unsurprising summary. Or check out this Washington Post editorial. Or why not this one as well, from Editor & Publisher.