Reale Simple

The world is more than what they tell you. Listen up. It's not complex. It's Reale Simple.

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Former USCHO writer, former writer at a Midwestern broadsheet, occassional CHN blogger.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The politics of war

I noted with some degree of amusement the Democrats' canned response to President Bush's speech last night. They continue to repeat their tired line of "the President isn't telling us anything new" despite the President choosing to take full responsibility for the war and its consequences, including the fact that weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, something which the Democrats have been braying for him to do for months. You'd think that would make them happy, but of course, nothing does.

"While I appreciate the president's increased candor, too much of the substance remains the same and the American people have still not heard what benchmarks we must meet along the way to know that progress is being made," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Well gee, Harry, what part of "train Iraqi security forces, deploy Iraqi security forces, root out terrorist leaders, help the Iraqi government establish its legitimacy, and slowly draw down troop levels" is hard to understand about "benchmarks?" Reid's problem is that he wants these benchmarks to have dates attached to them.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi missed the point entirely. "Tonight the president acknowledged more of the mistakes he has made in Iraq, but he still does not get it. Iraq did not present an imminent threat to the security of the United States before he began his war of choice," she said. Well, that was mighty informative, Nancy. How exactly does this help our current situation? Besides, the whole point was to make sure that Iraq didn't become an "imminent threat," something that Bush never directly called Iraq prior to the war, and something Democrats don't seem to ever understand.

The whining continued... Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer, the usual suspects came out before the cameras and complained about this thing or that. All continuing the sad, political line, accusing the Bush Administration of engaging in destructive politics to some degree or another.

But which side has been more consistent throughout? Kerry and Reid in particular are sounding an awful lot different than they were in 2002 when they voted to approve war in Iraq. The problem that the Democrats have had for the last five years is that their position, on everything, is simply to oppose the President (unless it comes to spending money, but I digress). What is good for Bush is bad for them, and vice versa under this position. When public opinion was overwhelmingly with the President, they trudged along with the politically expedient thing to do. Now that the war isn't going 100% perfect and the American public is beginning to show its abnormally short attention span, it's attack, attack, attack.

But let's not mention the fact that 70% of Iraqis turned out to vote last week. We didn't hear this from Reid or Pelosi or Kennedy. That would fall under "good for Bush," since those elections would have never happened if he had done what they asked for and set timetables and drawn troop levels prematurely.

And now the Democrats have begun to eat their own - perhaps the only Democrat in the Senate with the moral conviction to pick a stance and stick with it these days is Joe Lieberman from Connecticut. He supported the war from Day One, and while admitting that the war has not gone perfectly, still supports the war and says he'd still have supported the war knowing what he knows today. Because he refuses to attack the President on the war, his party leaders are shunning him, and even trying to defeat him in the Democrat primaries next year - a man who six years ago was the toast of the party, running on a national ticket, is now a pariah because he dares to have convictions.

The party out of power didn't always use everything but the kitchen sink to throw at the President during a time of war. When Wendell Willkie ran against FDR in 1940, he refused to use World War II to his political advantage, when he could have railed against the President for implementing a peacetime draft, he refused to make it an issue in the campaign, because he knew that if a war was on the horizon, the country would be best suited to execute that war if its leaders were united.

The Democrat leadership does not possess this same moral fiber. They are determined to regain power, and they will make any issue a political issue in pursuit of that goal, including a war where our country's men and women are engaged as we speak. If the war in Iraq goes poorly for the United States, it means good things for the Democrats. What a backwards morality that is.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Free Tookie? Where?

The most recent example of a "cause celebre" to come down the line has become Stanley Tookie Williams (Tookie is his actual middle name), a thug gangster who started the infamous Crips gang and who is set to die in California's death chamber tonight at San Quentin.

To hear the Hollywood glitterati describe Williams, you would think that he is a kind and gentle person who wouldn't harm a flea. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, you see, for his generosity toward others and his work in stopping gang violence on the streets from his prison cell. What they won't tell you is that Tookie Williams brutally murdered 4 innocent people in Los Angeles in cold blood. They won't tell you that the evidence proving his guilt is overwhelming. They won't tell you that he has never once admitted to his crimes or shown any remorse for them. They won't tell you that during his first several years in prison he was extremely violent towards guards and other prisoners. About the time that it sunk in that he was going to pay for his crimes with his life, he started to wise up and play nice.

I'm against the death penalty, but I'm also against breaking the rule of law. Williams has neglected to do the one thing that ought to be required in order to recieve clemency in a case where the evidence was so overwhelming as it was in this one - admit guilt and show remorse. Given that these killings were exceptionally violent against innocent people, and that he hasn't shown one ounce of remorse, I feel California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did the right thing by denying clemency. I may be against the death penalty, but California law allows it, and a jury convicted him and handed down the ultimate penalty. That decision can't just be overturned because someone doesn't like it. That's not what the foundation of law is built on.

The key to abolishing the death penalty is not to simply grant clemency to all who request it. The key is demonstrating the cruel and unusual nature of the death penalty as a means of punishment, along with the economic reasons for doing away with it. Also key is proving the innocence of people who actually were wrongly convicted and sentenced to die - none of this "Free Mumia" or "Free Tookie" garbage. Just because a person doesn't deserve to be killed at the hands of their government doesn't mean these people are not still evil and should at least rot in jail for the rest of their lives.

You can't just suddenly turn your life around in order to be spared. While that's important, Tookie left out the most important part of all - that he killed four innocent people. The fight goes on to stop capital punishment, but I'm not going to shed any tears for this guy.

Yet still, we have people like Mike Farrell - you know, the guy from M*A*S*H - calling Schwarzenegger a "coward" and that his reply to the request for clemency was "garbage." He also criticized him for not going to meet with Williams, as if the governor of the largest state in the union didn't have better things to be doing today than meeting with an unapologetic murderer and asking him his opinion on whether he should be put to death or not.

Truth is, Williams only became a "cause celebre" because he himself is a celebrity - a title anyone who writes literature while on Death Row can now claim for themselves. One also has to wonder which of Williams' actions had more of an impact on gang violence in this country - speaking out against it from prison, or starting one of the most notorious and violent gangs in the nation's history, a gang which now spreads from coast to coast.

Oh, and that Nobel Prize thing? He may have been nominated for a Nobel Prize, but odds are poor that he was ever considered for one. I could be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. All someone would have to do is send my name to the committee that votes on the winner. Even Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize at one point. Is this why this man deserves clemency?

For opponents of the death penalty, there are better cases to hold up than Tookie Williams.