Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mitt Romney: Like Nailing Jello to a Wall....

Mitt Romney's interview with George Stephanopoulos this morning was a remarkable study of a Teflon Candidate who spoke passionately about having strong convictions about many issues, while leaving the viewer in total confusion. From abortion to the federal role in education, Mitt seemed to be all over the board, each sentence contradicting the one before. But my favorite part of the interview was his internally inconsistent and thoroughly illogical perspectives on gays in the military and gay marriage (which, I guess, could be expected when you're the Mormon Governor of the most Liberal state in the union).

His comments on these issues, with my own comments added, are these:

Concerning Gays in the military, Mitt said:

"Well, "don't ask, don't tell" has worked well. "

"I must admit, I was somewhat uncertain as to whether that would work and I was skeptical as to whether that policy would work. "

"I don't have a policy posture as to allowing gays in the military to serve there openly."

(So, if I have this right, Mitt, you didn't think it would work, but now you think it has worked, and you don't want gays to be 'open')

Mitt continued: "But I can tell you that I'm against discrimination against people who are gay and lesbian." don't want Gays in the military to admit to any soul in the military that they are gay. But you are against discrimination. So, it would be OK to admit you are Catholic, Democrat, or of Croatian ethnic heritage; you could admit to being heterosexual and discuss in lurid detail your exploits with those of the opposite sex in the barracks; you could wolf whistle at the strippers in the club and place dollars in their long as it was a dancer of the opposite sex. So tell me again how you are 'against discrimination against people who are gay,' but believe that gays and ONLY gays must be silent about their lives to remain on the job?

And for what its worth Mitt, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" has NOT all. But we will save that issue for a separate blog entry.

Then, on marriage:

"...I do favor and have always favored traditional marriage and oppose same sex marriage.
..... I've felt marriage is between a man and a woman and not between people of the same gender. "

'....two people can enter into a partnership, whether they're people who love each other or whether they're just friends. They can enter into a contract and have contractual relationships with one another. ... But that doesn't require a sanction by the state and so that's a decision each state would have to make. I wouldn't seek to impose, at the national level, a prohibition on contractual relationships between two people...But my view is, at the national level, we should define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman..."

Whooa! "It's a decision each state would have to make" and "I wouldn't seek to impose, at the national level...," followed by, "At the national level, we should define marriage."

Mitt, old boy, do you see any contradiction there? Appealing to individual contractual rights and states rights on one hand, and supporting a national policy on the other hand? All things to all people, buster? Or Nothing to Anybody?

But here's the real exciting part:

"... And this isn't about adult rights. A lot of people get confused that gay marriage is about treating gay people the same as treating heterosexual people, and that's not the issue involved here. This is about the development and nurturing of children. Marriage is primarily an institution to help develop children and children's development, I believe, is greatly enhanced by access to a mom and a dad. I think every child deserves a mom and a dad, and that's why I'm so consistent and vehement in my view that we should have a federal amendment which defines marriage in that way..." My view is that the right model for the nation and the right standard for the nation is marriage is between a man and a woman and a child deserves a mom and a dad.."

Well, Mitt, you have pretty clearly stated that marital rights are about 'the development and nurturing of children." So if that's what marital rights are all about, I have some questions for you:

Does that mean you would revoke marital rights for heterosexual couples who are unable, or choose not, to raise children?

Would you revoke marital rights for couples once their children are grown and out of the house?

Would you make adoption by single parents illegal?

If marriage rights and benefits are predicated on the notion of raising children, then by your own standards childless couples should not have these rights. If you favor the adoption of a child by a single woman, how could you logically oppose the adoption of that child by a single woman and her partner? Further, under your own standard, if a state permits gay couples to adopt...wouldn't they have a stronger claim to marital benefits than a heterosexual couple with no children?

At some point, Mitt, you will need to stop sticking your wet finger in the wind while whispering contradictory sweet nothings into three different ears at once. And when you do, then we'll examine your stands on the issues. Until then, we'll give you some time to think about the logical conclusions of some of your 'positions.'

Courage and Independent Thinking in Wisconsin

Lately it's been refreshing listening to politicians out of Wisconsin. Both Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold and former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson have staked out positions on Iraq that place them at odds with their respective parties - positions that show both the courage of their convictions and pragmatism.

The Democrats took control over state legislatures and Congress largely on a wave of public dissatisfaction with the Iraqi mess. But Democrats can not just point the finger at the Bush - they, too, went along with most of this program, and gave been voting to continue it. This week, Democrats tried a lame resolution in Congress - one that passed the House but is stalled in the Senate. The Resolution disagrees with Bush's troop escalation, but does nothing about it. Even if passed, it's merely as if they are children saying "I don't like this!," but nothing happens as a result. It is a mere 'opinion' with no force or effect.

Russ Feingold is a Democrat who insists on 'walking the talk.' Rather than just offering non-binding opinions, Feingold is pushing for Congress to cut off funding for the Iraq war. While the President is the Commander-in-Chief, the House holds the purse strings. That is part of the checks and balances that the Founding fathers built into the Constitution.

If Democrats really want to stop the war, they can support Feingold. I suspect that what they really want to do is *complain* about the war, but not actually stop it. And for that reason, Feingold's bold proposal will probably not be supported.

Then there's Tommy Thompson's approach to Iraq. Thompson shows himself to be the ultimate realist when he sees Iraq not "as we want it to be," and not "as it ought to be," but as it truly is. And in so doing, he has called for the division of Iraq into three separate states rather than trying to hold it together as a single nation.

From the late 1200s until World War I, the land we call Iraq was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. And during the time, there were three states in the region: Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. That's a long time, folks. After the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in WWI, the European victors tried to create a sovereign nation - Iraq - out of these disparate pieces. One of the casualties of carving up the Ottoman Empire was the separation of the Kurds across four nations: Iran,k Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

Since then, the Kurds have been one of the most harassed people-groups on earth. In 1925 Turkey suppressed the Kurds, and outlawed their language and cultural expressions. In 1961 the Kurds began rebelling against the Iraqi government, and fighting has continued in fits and starts since then. In 1979, when Islamic Fundamentalists took over Iran, Kurds fought the Islamicists and were brutally suppressed in that nation. In 1988, Iraq engaged in "Al-Anfal," ('The Spoils of War'), and slaughtered thousands of Kurds. One and a half million Kurds fled to Turkey, which, at the time, was the lesser of four evils. During the first Persian Gulf War, the Kurds supported the US invasion and rebelled against Saddam Hussein. Their reward was to be slaughtered when Saddam was permitted to remain in power. Throughout the 1990s, Kurds were subject to raids by Turkish forces crossing the border into Iraq. Finally, in the most recent Iraqi engagement, the Kurds steadfastly opposed Saddam (after thousands had been maimed, killed, and gassed with toxic chemicals by his regime), and assisted the American and European forces.

Since that time, the Kurdish region of Iraq has been stable. The sectarian violence that plagues the Shiites and Sunni Muslims in Baghdad is practically non-existent in Iraqi Kurdistan. While the Kurds live in relative autonomy right now, it came at a price: they still have no homeland of their own, and the oil-rich lands around Kirkuk and Mosul - traditional Kurdish cities - have been wrested from them and given to the Sunnis & Shiites who continue to be engaged in a civil war with each other.

For over 700 years, Iraq existed as three states. Today, the Kurds have suffered at the ends of Iraq and the surrounding states, bore the brunt of Saddam's cruelty, have assisted the west in every endeavor, and have shown themselves capable of peaceful and effective government - and yet, their reward is still to be a people without a homeland, in an Iraqi nation with make-believe borders imposed by Britain after WWI.

It's time to listen to Thompson, give the Kurds their own homeland, and let the Shiites and Sunnis fight their own battles with each other. And time to listen to Feingold, and not just talk about ending a war and whining about it, but actually doing it.