Monday, September 24, 2007

Political Roundup: A couple of quick hits

I'm woefully behind in half the stuff I want to write, so I'll hit some of these issues quickly.

Russia Rejects Stronger Sanction on Iran: It's hard to say if this even qualifies as news. Of course Russia would object to sanctions. They are selling a lot of equipment, especially nuclear related equipment to Iran. Other than oil and gas (which were private institutions before Stalin, I mean Putin, "nationalized", the only burgeoning market for Russia is to sell dangerous materials to dangerous countries. The only thing surprising about the story is that the push for these sanctions came from -- wait for it, wait for it -- France! The pussies from Old Europe getting tough? Maybe this Sarkozy guy is actually pretty cool.

Can Someone Please Explain Why John Edwards is Popular?
: I don't get it. Somehow this bozo is still in the top half of the Democratic field for President. Yes, he's good looking, affable and so on, but he's still just a shyster lawyer. He rails against high medical costs, but he made his millions through frivolous law suits which helped to raise the cost of medical care and insurance. He's pandering to the left of the party by flipping his position on the war in Iraq. Big deal. First, it's ingenuous. He's only doing it to be popular with the most activist parts of the party. Like Mitt Romney, I'm not sure I will ever believe him when he tells me the color of his eyes, let alone his "current" position on any issue. But there he is running 3rd or 4th (depending on whether Gore is included in the poll). Yet a guy like Joe Biden, who is arguably the smartest guy running for President in either party, is only polling at 2-3%. I guess voters are stupid. What's worse is that it looks like in an election that the Democrats can't lose, they are leaning towards nominating the one person that has absolutely no chance to win in the General Election -- Hillary. Exasperating.

Lebanon's Bloody Road to a Stable Democracy: Another anti-Syrian member of parliament, Antoine Ghanem, along with 4 others was killed a week ago. He was the 8th Anti-Syrian legislator killed since the February 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which sparked widespread protests that led to the ouster of Syrian forces from Lebanon (known as the Cedar Revolution). Of course this is happening leading up to Tuesday's scheduled Presidential Election in Lebanon where they are about to vote for a successor to Emil Lahoud, the current President and lap dog for the Syrian regime who must step down at the end of November. The timing of the assassination was so bad, even Hezbollah objected. The latest is that it appears that Lebanon will postpone the election by at least a month. The sad thing is that I don't believe that there's anyone on the planet who doesn't think that Syria was involved. But similarly, I don't think that any country of international body (think the UN) has the balls to do anything to help the citizens of Lebanon. The bloody march to democracy continues.

Petreus' Testimony to Congress
: Did anyone expect anything different? Other than the opening line (let me paraphrase -- 'nobody helped me with my homework'), it sounded eerily like Bush's position on the war. I'm not a military analyst by any stretch, but it seems like the same story we've heard since the run-up to the 2004 election -- we're making great progress and the Iraqi military forces should be able to take over soon. Back in the first Bush-Kerry debate Bush stated that by January 2005 there would be over 125,000 Iraqi troops trained to take over some of the military and security duties of US-Coalition forces. I don't think we have that level today, nearly 3 years later. Especially when many non-partisan organizations like the GAO are painting a very different picture of the situation in Iraq, it's hard to believe General Petreus' "interpretation" of the situation.

Progress in Israeli-Palestinian Relations?: OK, here's another one where I won't hold my breath. Nothing would make me happier than a safer Israel and the end to the 60-year old conflict that began when Israel repelled a 5-nation attack on the very day it was formed. But while PM Abbas seems to be a reasonable partner in peace, most of the sticky issues (Jerusalem, right of return) aren't close to being solved. And it's not like Abbas represents the entire Palestinian people. Hamas is quickly turning Gaza into a fundamentalist Muslim theological state, and there is great suffering within those borders as the economy is in tatters. I'm not sure I see an end in sight. I wish I did, but peace still seems out of reach.

1 comment:

Rudy said...

Glenn, your analysis of world affairs is mostly accurate. But you are way off with your analysis of Edwards and Clinton. First of all, The Democratic candidate will definitely win the general election (barring a miraculous turnaround in Iraq, which is as likely as the Knicks winning the NBA title). And out of the Democratic candidates, Clinton is the most electable...she is a Centrist candidate and she already showed in her New York Senate races that she can get cross-over support from moderate Republicans and Independents). If you saw the way she handled herself yesterday on the Fox Sunday Morning Show, you should have no doubt of her ability to win.

Second, Edwards did not "flip" his position on Iraq any more than Clinton did - they both supported (in 2002) giving The President the authority to use force if the inspections did not succeed; they both disgreed with how the President used that authority and they both ultimately came to the realization that the war was a lost cause (Clinton later than Edwards).

Third, Edwards did not make his money on "frivolous" law suits...his big money cases involved people (including children) who were either killed or seriously injured by negligence. He specialized in infant cerebral palsy and brain damage cases (resulting from negligence in treatment during labor and delivery). The biggest case of his legal career was a 1997 product liability lawsuit against Sta-Rite, the manufacturer of a defective pool drain cover. The case involved a three-year-old girl who was disemboweled by the suction power of the pool drain pump when she sat on an open pool drain whose protective cover other children at the pool had removed, after the swim club had failed to install the cover properly. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, Sta-Rite continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings. Sta-Rite protested that an additional warning would have made no difference because the pool owners already knew the importance of keeping the cover secured. Now you could disagree with the jury verdict if you want, but it is wrong to say that this was a "frivolous" lawsuit.