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I got into a political argument over at Making Light and John Scalzi's blog. I really shouldn't have, because my political views are, well, complicated.

I don't like George W. Bush. Never did, and voted against him both times. There is some personal risk for me to say that – I live in DuPage county, the Republican party headquarters for Illinois, and several of the higher-ups at my company are die-hard Republicans.

My problem with Bush is that his words and actions frequently don’t match. He’s like a morbidly obese man claiming to be on a diet while eating an ice cream cone and sucking down a Cherry Coke (tm). Before I explain this, let me add that I’m not entirely happy with the Democrats. "Bush Lied – People Died" is many things, but it is not a foreign policy. (I will still support the Democrats as the only alternative.)

My problem with Bush is:
- This is the first war in US history funded on a tax cut and one in which we did not increase the size of the Army.
- Although I agree that Iraq without Saddam is a better place, and feel we had every right and reason to invade, Colin Powell’s "Pottery Barn Rule" (you break it, you bought it) applies. We did not have a plan for reconstruction, and got behind the problem.
- The current plan of “train up the Iraqis” is the only valid one left, but assumes more troops then we have.
- We should have spent more time in Afghanistan, and more efforts to involve our allies, before going to Iraq.
- Bush’s energy independence plan (AKA “hydrogen”) is great, but we need an interim pathway to get there.

I could probably go on, but instead I’ll cut to the chase regarding the debate I got in – the “detainees bill.” For those of you who don’t follow politics, this is the bill approving military tribunals for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). I think it’s a mixed bag.

We need to do something with the folks at Gitmo. If we classify them as POWs, we could hold them until the end of the war. Since there is no way to even define “end,” that means a life sentence. But it’s not against US law to be a driver for Osama Bin Laden. The military tribunal seems a reasonable compromise, and has been done in the US before.

There are two parts of the bill I don’t like. First, the definition of “torture” is left in the President’s hands. This is bad for the same reasons we don’t let cops define interrogation methods – the incentive is to “squeeze until they pop.” Second, there appears to be an attempt to define “unlawful combatant” in such a way that it covers US citizens. Since habeas corpus is not waived for US citizens, this is not as dangerous as it could be, but still greatly problematic.

I suspect this post will draw fire from both sides, so I’m declaring the range hot.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
"my political views are, well, complicated."

I think that's a good thing; shows you're thinking.
Sep. 30th, 2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
I try to. BTW, I do like your blog.
Oct. 2nd, 2006 01:29 pm (UTC)
You know, there's not all that much here I disagree with. Your characterization of the Democrats, maybe; "Bush lied - people died" doesn't pretend to be a foreign policy. It's just a slogan. You can't chant complex policy statements during a protest, though I for one would be willing to give it a try if it meant I'd never again have to listen to "The people, united, will never be defeated".

(Hmm. You know, that's actually an idea: it'd be fun, something different at any rate, and everyone could join in. Also, it'd be guaranteed to be on-message. Must give this more thought.) (But I digress.)

I do disapprove of holding the prisoners at Guantanamo for some indefinitely long period. It's been known for some time now (via the Red Cross, I believe) that a lot of those guys were never guilty of anything. They just got grabbed, or irresponsibly or maliciously informed on (news flash: anonymous informers aren't terribly responsible), and then once we got hold of them we never let them go. That sin's been earning compound interest ever since.

I do like the image of GWB as a morbidly obese man claiming to be on a diet while sucking down ice cream and cherry coke. This administration's finances are scary.

Oct. 2nd, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
"Bush lied - people died" - I see this a lot from the Kos / Huffington Post side of the party. Mostly from the commenters, granted. My point was that, in a political argument, there are always three audiences; two of whom have already made up their mind and don't want to be confused by facts, and a group who are undecided. We need to always be thinking of and arguing to that middle group.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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