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Blaming Bush May 25, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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The mainstream media is at it again, publicizing Republican talking points like good foot soldiers in the tea party revolution.

Politico ran this headline yesterday:  “Obama campaigns against Bush — again.”

President Barack Obama is trying to ride the wave of anti-incumbency by taking on an unpopular politician steeped in the partisan ways of Washington.

It doesn’t matter that George W. Bush left office 16 months ago.

The White House’s mid-term election strategy is becoming clear — pit the Democrats of 2010 against the Republicans circa 2006, 2008 and 2009, including Bush.

It’s a lot to ask an angry, finicky electorate to sort out. And even if Obama can rightfully make the case that the economy took a turn for the worse under Bush’s watch, he’s already made it — in 2008 and repeatedly in 2009.

It’s not clear that voters still want to hear it.

In fact, Obama has largely refrained from directly criticizing Bush, and that reticence has helped the public forget about that singularly mendacious and incompetent Administration.

But more importantly, the Bush Administration really is responsible for the financial collapse, excessive debt, and the lack of regulation that produced the Gulf Oil spill. The conservative American public dislikes being reminded of these facts but that doesn’t make them any less facts.

None of the problems we face have their origins in the Obama Administration. But apparently the press is more interested in stoking the public’s anti-government mood than in telling the truth.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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Support for Arizona Immigration Bill is No Surprise May 2, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Ethics, politics.
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People from across the ideological spectrum are condemning Arizona’s new immigration statute. Few GOP leaders have endorsed it and it has been condemned by religious leaders and newspaper editorial boards across the country

But according to a recent poll, the public narrowly supports it.

Americans familiar with Arizona’s tough, new immigration law tend to favor it, a new poll found.

51 percent of those who have heard of Arizona’s new law to crack down illegal immigration said they generally favor it, a new Gallup Poll found Thursday. 39 of those who have heard of the law opposed it, while 11 percent were unsure.

Steve Benen is surprised:

I find this very hard to believe, not because Gallup is unreliable, but because I like to think the American character is decent and strong, and would resist efforts like these.

But frankly, this doesn’t surprise me at all. It is in fact an accurate reflection of the United States at this point in its history—bigoted, selfish, angry, and looking for scapegoats. Recall that this is a public that put a selfish, deceitful moron in the White House for eight  years. This is a public that was excited beyond measure at bombing the hell out of a weak, largely irrelevant country that had done nothing provocative. This is a country that still denies consenting adults the right to marry, and will vote to shred our educational system in order to hang on to a few dollars every year that would otherwise go to taxes.

We are a deeply conservative country with a powerful authoritarian streak and one election will not change that.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Its the Morality Stupid March 12, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, Ethics.
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The Bush Administration’s 8-year ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research was finally overturned by Obama on Monday.

Stem-cell research has the potential to cure a variety of diseases including, especially Alzheimer’s Disease. We do not yet know whether stem-cell research will pan out, but if it does, countless lives will be saved and much suffering avoided.

But if this research is successful, we will have wasted 8 years. As Juan Cole argues, in that case, George Bush will have been responsible for the death and/or suffering of millions.

In fact, by 2010 there will be nearly 500,000 new cases a year, and in the foreseeable future there will be a million new cases a year. That is, if Bush delayed the research 8 years, and if a cure really does come from that quarter, Bush will have condemned at least 4 million persons to the debilitating disease.

There is no good argument for the claim that life begins at conception or that embryos are persons. Even if one’s sympathies or intuitions lead one to care for embryos, there is no excuse for ignoring the fate of millions of genuine persons. The people who supported this ban are incapable of moral judgment.

Thus, it is disappointing that Obama’s remarks announcing the removal of the ban, as well as the executive order he signed, made no mention of the moral consequences. He argued that the ban was a rejection of the “promise of science” and that his administration would “make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,” as if the only issue was whether the research was worth supporting with federal dollars or not. (See Yuval Levin in the Washington Post for a similar point.)

I have no idea why Obama chose to leave out any discussion of the moral issue. But the tendency to push ethical matters under the rug, and talk instead about science or the economy,  is a liberal “tic” that has done great harm to liberalism. It sends the message that liberals don’t care about ethical matters, and it has, over the years, allowed the right wing to claim the mantle of “values voters”.

This decision to overturn the ban was ideological and profoundly moral and we ought not run away from that fact. Ignoring the ethical dimension doesn’t fool the people who supported the ban, and it leaves the impression that our ethical position is weak when it is, in fact, anything but weak.

If the opposition doesn’t have a leg to stand on, why give them a stool?

Was the United States a Dictatorship? March 11, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
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Economic news tends to crowd everything else from public attention these days. But this story from last week should not go unnoticed.

Memos from the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush Administration were released. And they are as frightening as many of us feared. These were memos written by the President’s legal advisors including the infamous John Yoo, advising Bush on what he could and could not do.

Here is Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of one of the memos:

The essence of this document was to declare that George Bush had the authority (a) to deploy the U.S. military inside the U.S., (b) directed at foreign nationals and U.S. citizens alike; (c) unconstrained by any Constitutional limits, including those of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  It was nothing less than an explicit decree that, when it comes to Presidential power, the Bill of Rights was suspended, even on U.S. soil and as applied to U.S. citizens.  And it wasn’t only a decree that existed in theory; this secret proclamation that the Fourth Amendment was inapplicable to what the document calls “domestic military operations” was, among other things, the basis on which Bush ordered the NSA, an arm of the U.S. military, to turn inwards and begin spying — in secret and with no oversight — on the electronic communications (telephone calls and emails) of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

As John Horton writes in Harper’s

“We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship.

It is shameful that while this abrogation of the Constitution was taking place, the press for the most part ignored it.