George Bush and the Reversal on Foreign Policy

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on | No Comments

I think J.K. Rowling should use that as the name of book seven, in place of “Harry Potter and Whatever This Part Will Be.”

George Bush, the man who seemed like he was going to enjoy a fairly quiet presidency, rocked by the events of 9/11. George Bush, the man who urged that the world rout out the Axis of Evil and other terrorists. George Bush, who led us through wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And George Bush, the decider, deciding on a complete reversal of the course he set in 2001.

As some of you may know, the President, along with Tony Blair, is urging that a U.N. backed peacekeeping force be sent to southern Lebanon, right after a cease-fire is negotiated (1). He also recommended that foreign nations not interfere with this force. Add that to the fact the White House is now supporting Geneva Convention protections for Guantanamo detainees (2), and you can clearly see that something is going on in Washington.

Not that I’m against any of this at all. In fact, I would embrace both measures with open arms, as would I’m sure many people. However, why the complete switch in foreign policy? Back in 2003, the President was pushing for an international force to invade Iraq if they didn’t disarm. He certainly was not backing down from his position then.

Well, as anybody who can read a newspaper would know, the President is increasingly becoming unpopular, even within his own party. Any decision a President makes ultimately creates an image for his party, whether or not the rest of them would act the same way. It’s a waterfall affect; the ill starts at the top, and spreads it way to the bottom. It happened with Clinton, and that’s probably part of the reason Bush won in 2000. So, I think the President is doing this in part to gain back support for the Republicans. They obviously want to stay in control of Congress. I think that if they lose either chamber in November, it will create a ripple effect that could potentially lead to a Democratic victory in 2008.

This is not the first time I’ve noticed this change in attitude. It has been going on for some time, since the start of the current tensions between us and Iran. If you did not notice, the President never ruled out invading Iran, but he never made it clear that the option was on the table. What he did make clear, in his last State of the Union address, was the the Iranians should rise up and combat their own government. Well, that was my interpretation, at least. You can make up your own mind:

And tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. — Excerpt, Presidental State of the Union Address, 1/31/06

So, is this reversal of policy a good thing? Undoubtedly, it is the best thing he has done in six years. Is the President doing this for right reason, though? That is an answer that is a little murkier, but I think it may at least be part of the reason. Though he says he does not pay attention to opinion polls, the facts make me wonder otherwise. If it’s not public opinion, then it’s his standing among members of Congress. Something has caused him to change his mind. I do wonder how long it will last. Will the President keep going this course if the Republicans retain control of Congress is November? That remains to be seen, but I think there is a good chance that this would be the case. Even if his party retains control, he would again probably fall out of favor if he shifted course again.

While writing the last paragraph, something I learned in my college course about the Soviet Union came to mind. President Mikhail Gorbachyov also found himself in a similar situation with the party toward the end of his term. In order to appease the masses, he found himself having to switch from being more conservative to more liberal and back several times, since he feared for his position, while not wanting the Soviet Union to fall apart. The U.S. is nowhere near falling apart, but the Republican’s hold on Congress is near the tipping point. Therefore, and on a final note, it will be quite interesting to see what happens after November. Stay tuned to this spot for an update.


Upgrade to MT 3.3

Posted by Mike Merritt in Dymersion on | No Comments

Well, for the past few hours I’ve been working on an upgrade to the software running Dymersion. There’s a few cool things in this versions:

1) Widgets – These allow you me to move around things on the sidebar with absurd ease.
2) Tags – Who doesn’t love tags. I contemplated whether to keep the categories on the main page and in the entries, but I will…for now. I may in the future switch over to tags completely.

The transition has been relatively painless, and I encourage my fellow Movable Type users to upgrade!


Goodbye, Teens!

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | No Comments

Well, it’s happened. The big 2-0. Wow…I sure had more to say last night! Anyway, happy birthday to me!


Chicago Police Under Scruitiny for Torture

Posted by Mike Merritt in Society on | No Comments

I know that racism is still rampant in America, but it’s still sad to see it, hear about it, or read about it. Especially when it concerns police officers, who are supposed to be upholding the law.

The Associated Press reported today that for several years, the Chicago department used beatings, electocution, and other methods to worm confessions out of crime suspect, and that most of the people who received this treatment were black. These actions started out as rumors until prosecutors decided to investigate, and investigate they did.

The found that many of the 148 cases they investigated seemed to be true, but they thought they had pretty solid evidence for three of them, except for one problem. A three year statute of limitations on this type of crime. That is, most of the cases happened more than three years ago, so they cannot be prosecuted.

What is a statute of limitations? You hear it a lot in the news, especially in regards to criminal cases. Connecticut residents might remember a few years in the Michael Skakel case that the defense lawyers tried to use the statute of limitations argument to throw out the case. Well, a statute of limitations is basically the amount of time someone has to prosecute on a criminal case or sue on a civil case. After that, the case would be thrown out before it was started. The justification for this is that over time memories fade and evidence becomes unreliable1. In this case, the statute of limitations was three years.

This ticks me off so much. I understand and agree with the justification for the statute of limitations, but why the hell didn’t prosecutors investigate this years ago? You know, when people first started spreading rumors. In the article, it makes mention of how a former official at the Cook County State Attorney’s office could have investigated but did not. I think this story not only shows that racism is still very much kicking in this country, but also underlines the problem with some police officers. How they think they’re above the law and so can do anything they want, because they think there will be no consequences. The fact is, in this case there be no prosecution. Perhaps it is time for Illinois to review their statute of limitations laws, especially in reference to the police.

As well as completely ignoring civil rights and every law on due process, there is a chance some of the people tortured are innocent. I’m sure we’ve all seen stories and documentaries on how well pressured confessions work…not so much. People will tell you anything you want if you threaten them enough, never mind physical harm. So, now there is the chance that some people are in jail for all the wrong reasons.

If there is a bright side to this dymersion, it’s that more and more departments across the country are video taping interrogations. Thus, it will be almost impossible to threaten or beat a confession out of a suspect. Hopefully, in the future, all departments across the country will have this system. It can only help ensure proper due process.

1: Wikpedia: Statute of Limitations


Stargating and Uncle Bob’s House

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Television on | No Comments

Combined Lake and Stone Patio

I’ll explain more about the season premieres of Statgate SG-1 and Atlantis in the expanded entry, as to not incur the wrath of those who have not yet seen the episodes. I have to say this though: I thought they rocked!

Haven’t talked about what I’ve been doing lately. Basically, been helping out at the store, and trying to get a job. I put in an app for Pizza Hut, but I need to call them, to see if they’ve even considered me. I’ve also done some work with a guy who does video production for a living. I’ve already helped him film a concert at Cheney Tech last month, and about a week ago, I help him out at a civil war reenactment in Massachusetts.

Other than that, and trying to get a new insurance card from Bluecare, I’ve gone swimming a few times, and to a couple family gatherings. The last was yesterday, to my Uncle Bob’s house in Rhode Island. As always, the rest of his property looks about ten times better than his house. The garden has grown in some more. He’s added a small bridge to the top most level of it. The water has finally come back in to regular levels, after they had to drain much of it last year. Taking advantage of when the water was low, and as you can see in the picture to your right, he added in a stone patio literally right on the water. Water surrounds it on three sides, and it has stone steps going from the driveway down to it. There’s also a nice little terraced garden alongside the steps. It’s very nice.

I’ve uploaded photos that I took while there today, mostly of the garden itself, so anybody who’s interested feel free to click on the photo to get to my Flickr account.

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Molly Poses for the Camera

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | 4 Comments

Pose for the Camera

The picture is a week old, but it should work. The name is now Molly, and it is the final decision. She is still in the cute stage. For some strange reason, she is kiss crazy. She’ll lick air to get those kisses in. She also jumps pretty high. We’re still not completely sure on what is mixed in with the black lab, but we think it’s a spaniel of some sort, judging by the ears.

Isn’t soooo cute? Click on the photo to see more cuteness.


Backster with a Survey

Posted by Mike Merritt in Surveys and Ecetera on | No Comments

So, Independence Week 2006 didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I wanted to do at least one article a day, but it didn’t happen. I will not fail next year! After all, if I fail, the terrorists win…

So, before I head to bed, I leave you with a long survey. Read on…

UPDATE: Sorry that it’s way down the page. I’ll blame it on the absolutely hideous code that’s being used to create the table. I’ll try to work on it.
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IW 2006: Congress Authorizes Coin for Braille

Posted by Mike Merritt in Independence Week on | No Comments

Looks like I’m doubling up today, since I forgot to post one yesterday.

Congress recently authorized the U.S. to create a silver dollar to commemorate Louis Braille, the creator of the Braille alphabet. I think that’s a good way to celebrate a man who single-handedly revolutionized reading and writing for the blind.

An earlier system of raised letters was used by the school which Braille attended. However, the system used (paper against wire) prevented the reader from also being able to write. In 1821, Charles Barbier, a Captain in Napoleon’s army, visited Braille’s school, and met Braille. He had created a system of reading and writing that allowed soldiers to communicate silently and without light. His system used 12 dots and Braille found the system difficult to use because the fingertip could not read the dots without moving, so he changed the system to use six dots instead.

So, I hope you enjoyed the brief history lesson…thanks, Wikipedia! Interestingly, the bill was co-written by one of my state’s senators, Christopher Dodd.


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