Tuesday, May 26, 2009
DARTH VADER RETURNS
The evil scowl still present on his countenance, Dick Cheney continues his attempts to frighten the American people who rejected him and his cronies just last November. Frantically he tries to defend the evil that he and his gang perpetrated not only on the American people but also the world.
Can we not rid ourselves of this man? Why are we giving him free air time to spew his venom upon us? Why? Is it “the news media” who seem to like any controversy, the nastier the better. Or, is the answer related to that reasoning which pays Rush Limbaugh millions of dollars to fill us daily with his bilious utterings?
He tells us that we are not as safe now as we were when he and his cabal were in governing power, and that we will become increasingly unsafe if we undo any of his misdeeds which turned the sympathies of a part of the world against us and invoked hatred from the other part.
No, we were never safe with Cheney and Bush in control. They were there on 9/11, ignoring a specific intelligence warning several days before that attack. They were confused and inept, just as during Katrina. Then they bullied their intelligence to give poor Colin Powell some cooked up data to go to the U.N. to justify a war against Iraq.
They could never find the “weapons of mass destruction,” but they resorted to torture of Arab captives to try to come up with a connection some way between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Then they cooked up some obfuscating legal memos from underlings to try to make torturing of prisoners legal. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo became symbols of prisoner abuse to the entire world, and a recruiting poster for terrorist organizations.
Had not the misdeeds of the Bush administration against prisoners been attached to the reputation of Guantanamo world wide, Mr. Obama would not be faced with the necessity of closing down that facility. Take away its aura of evil, and the encampment at Guantanamo might well be a model solution for holding legally and properly incarcerated prisoners taken in the jihad of terrorists against us and western civilization.
Too many of those now at Guantanamo have been held on false or flimsy charges and little or no evidence. Some of the evidence on perpetrators has been obtained by torture, thus not admissible in any fair court.
It is no credit to the American public that some 35% appear to be swallowing Darth Cheney’s three false premises – that illegal torture was necessary, that it was successful, and that anything is okay if done for a good cause. Cheney is Machiavellian, so watch out for his shotgun! Heaven help us if we sell out our basic values so readily.
Mr. Obama’s revision of the military tribunals, giving prisoners rights previously denied, may be the proper thing for some prisoners. Others for whom we have little or nothing admissible should be returned to authorities in their own nation or region. The Saudis have been effective with such. The hardcore terrorists remaining should be tried and put into our federal maximum security prisons.
It is too bad that the facility was misused and abused by Cheney and his crowd. In the type of world conflict we find ourselves entangled, there is a need for a detention center of that nature for persons taken in combat situations.
Now, could somebody tell Darth Cheney to go back into his undisclosed location under his galactic rock?
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Sunday, May 17, 2009
N. O. C. HONOREES
Ed Kelley, now editor of the Daily Oklahoman, was a sports writer and the editor of the college’s Maverick newspaper. As the student editor, he was highly serious about his journalistic endeavors and demanded the same of his peers. We did not worry about the newspaper, knowing that it was in responsible hands. He sent his sports work directly to area newspapers.
As a sportswriter, Ed Kelley (from Perry) had a colorful style. I have joked many times about the flourish of his language. I have illustrated this by noting that if Ed were writing about a basketball game, he did not write, “The Mavericks met the Mountaineers in a critical game….. .” Instead Ed might write, “The Mavericks charged onto the court with fire in their eyes and their jaws set in rugged determination to best their arch-rival …… .” This may not be entirely correct, but the point is that he had style.
Ed went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma and began his career with the Oklahoma Publishing Company. He has done a rich body of work there, including a stint as Washington correspondent, and is now editor of the newspaper of widest circulation in the state. He has done well.
Karen Long (from Enid) was a national championship debater. Paired with Gary Hulse (now an Enid businessman) they formed an unbeatable combination in junior college competition and won university contests as well. They brought home so many championship trophies that we actually had to buy two new display cases for them.
Karen was a bright, spunky, pretty, blonde girl with a pleasing personality. Although she could be a formidable adversary in debate, she was quite easy and pleasant to have around. Her time in college was the period of student activism, and many colleges were experiencing difficulties that we did not allow to develop at NOC. But I have often thought what a tussle it might have been if Karen had been one to try to lead a student rebellion.
Karen went on to become an attorney of considerable note and distinction. While she was the attorney for the O.E.A., she assisted Attorney General Jan Cartwright in successful execution of a lawsuit bringing fairness to the income and distribution system of the Oklahoma School Land Trust. The results benefitted NOC to tune of tens of thousands per year.
Karen now works in a large law firm in Tulsa handling school related cases, normally with public schools as clients. She has done tremendous leadership work in setting up and obtaining consensus on criteria for satisfying Title 9 requirements. She has written the most authoritative publication guide for schools in this legal area.
Kay Farrell (also of Enid) was one of my “kids” at NOC. Kay came to us as an adult student in nursing. She excelled in her academic science work, as well as her nursing courses. Kay participated on our state championship College Bowl team. Kay was always an “upper” to be around. She encouraged fellow nursing students, in what is a demanding, and almost cruel, grind in training. It is stressful to students and faculty laboring under an unyielding pressure of the RN examination at the end of their program.
As a faculty member, Kay showed these same qualities. She was academically competent and appropriately empathetic with students. Other than completing her advanced degrees and returning to NOC as a faculty member, Kay went on to teach for NWOSU. She was then on the nursing faculty at the Health Sciences Center at the University of Oklahoma. She still maintains a part-time status with OU, while exerting community service leadership in Enid.
I recall that at her commencement at NOC, Kay requested that our commencement speaker be allowed to present her diploma. That was none other than Bert Mackie, her neighbor in Enid, our good friend, and Oklahoma State Regent for the System at that time.
These honorees were kind enough to give me more than my fair share of the credit for their personal academic and career success. After all these years, it really does feel good to be appreciated.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Sunday, May 10, 2009
GULLIBILITY OF VOTERS
While one might chafe a bit at the cynicism of Mencken’s humorous truisms, it would be difficult to dispute their validity.
Perhaps one might say: “Never overestimate the intelligence of the American voter.” Or conversely, “Never underestimate the ignorance or the gullibility of the American voter.” Time and again we have observed this to be true. The question before us: Will this prove again to be the case with President Obama’s agenda of change?
This amateur pundit has written several times about the infinite capacity of the American voters, and Oklahoma voters in particular, to vote against their own best interest as citizens and consumers. Regularly voters go to the polls and elect public officials who do not serve them or their peers, but openly take positions and sponsor measures detrimental to the welfare of the common citizen. This continues to be the case.
It must be difficult to understand that the working person’s interests and those of the wealthy are not always congruent. It must be difficult to comprehend when politicians are serving their donors rather than the public. Even when faced with the ever-recurring facts, people fail to comprehend the power of lobbyists in comparison with the power of the voters.
The average voter, who normally is a worker, will vote for candidates who offer “workers’ comp reform” as a subterfuge to undermine his own rights in favor of his employer. The average citizen-consumer may have his suspicions of lawyers nurtured and expanded to the extent that he will vote for people who will fix the laws to deny him his day in court when wronged by businesses, medical providers, or insurance companies.
Does anyone remember Harry and Louise? These were the conversational TV ads sponsored by the health insurance companies that scuttled President Bill Clinton’s universal health insurance initiative. The gullibility of the American voters to such attack advertising sponsored by those with monetary interests adverse to the public interest is alarming.
Since President Obama is seriously pushing the health coverage part of his agenda, there are already advertisements of the same nature as Harry and Louise appearing on television. Sponsored by the insurance companies, these ads attempt to frighten the public with the notion that a “government bureaucrat” will be interfering with the decisions of the patient and the doctor.
Actually, it is now the private HMO or health insurance company bureaucrat who is interfering most with the doctor and the patient’s treatment decisions. Who has not seen those horror stories or even experienced such frustrations personally?
There is another quote from H. L. Mencken which says: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
Such were the tactics used by the past republican administration after 9/11 to justify pre-emptive foreign wars, to keep the American people placid while their civil rights were compromised, and to justify torture of captives against the law of the signed Geneva Convention.
Now we see over and over the specter of socialism raised to frighten people about Mr. Obama’s efforts to save the economy, change a tax system which favors the rich, and bring needed health insurance coverage to the millions of uninsured. The monetary supporters of the republicans are escalating their efforts to picture Mr. Obama to the voter as a big spending profligate, ruining the country by taxing the rich and the corporations who move their jobs and their bank accounts out of the country.
In this state and all over the country, the public needs to wise up to what is transpiring in the political arena. Average voters must look out for their own interests. Those with money to donate to campaigns and put lobbyists in Capitol halls are unlikely to be trying to benefit the common person.
The political game has been one of symbiosis of moneyed special interests and politicians. That game needs to change.
Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Saturday, May 02, 2009
INCREDIBLE SHRINKING PARTY
Actual polls now show that only 21% of Americans identify themselves as republican. Adding another 16% who say they are “leaning republican” does not a contender make. Moderates have left. Their majorities are only in the South.
While not necessarily announced openly as an operational policy point, it appears that the Republican Party has chosen purity over other considerations. It is more important that their politicians adhere to pure party discipline than it is to be relevant in the halls of government.
Republicans have rejected bi-partisanship. They have brushed aside the hand offered by the new president, and have instead become hardliner opponents of everything. Democrats have passed needed progressive legislation to address national problems, while republicans have stood by shouting epithets about socialism.
It is strange that the Republicans reject overtures of bi-partisanship by declaring the only bi-partisan way is their way. “Take it or leave it,” they say. Why would they think that the winners of the last election, where change was the issue, would just roll over and continue the failed policies of the past republican administration?
The republicans have been mean and vindictive in their reprisals against their own party members who stray to vote their conscience independent of the party line. While they like to declare themselves a party with a broad umbrella during elections, they continue to be a party dominated by relentless, determined, hardcore, conservative extremists. They call these their party “base,” and they must all cater and please this base.
There is no room in today’s Republican Party for moderates. Senator Arlen Specter is the latest to so conclude. Having been a faithful moderate of that party in the Senate for 29 years, the hardcore right has been all set to back another republican against him in the next election. Why? He committed treason by supporting Obama’s stimulus package he thought was needed back home in Pennsylvania as well as in America as a whole.
It is time to put the public spotlight on a right wing political PAC called “Club for Growth.” It is run by a former reactionary extremist congressman named Chocola. Some say he is “to the right of Genghis Khan and just as mean.” This group uses loads of PAC money to punish defectors from the party line. They do so in republican primary elections where their advertising money has greatest impact in making the party base think these persons are traitors to their cause.
The Club for Growth has already defeated several moderate republicans in Congress, electing arch-conservatives and consistently intimidating those who might otherwise be more moderate and reasoning in their stance. They seem to have an unlimited supply of money from their hardcore supporters to make things happen within that party.
It is interesting to see the declared purposes of this group on their internet website. They want to: preserve tax cuts for the wealthy, repeal all inheritance taxes, cut government spending, cut taxes, expand free trade (no mention of fair), change Social Security to private market accounts, stop “abusive” lawsuits against businesses, replace the tax code, spend taxpayer money for vouchers for private schools, and deregulate business and industry.
Theirs is not merely a conservative agenda, it is a regressive agenda. It is obviously a right wing extremist group with lots of money. How fearsome! The thought of a Republican Party dominated by such people is unsettling. It is well that the party remain irrelevant in the political process as long as it is the party of extremists. God help us if these ever regain power.
One would suppose that these findings are consistent with the reliance on such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove as party spokespersons. Behind the scenes lurks Rupert Murdoch, and his media empire, now carrying their message 24/7. His Wall Street Journal now skews the business news in a similar fashion.
In a sense these are parts of the Republican Party disciplinary machinery. The party that returned to national power as one drawing upon crossover “Reagan Democrats” has now returned to it most base nature. It is no longer a party for the moderate, free-thinking, statesmen that the nation needs to regain its inner strength.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate