Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I’m At 34(%)?

Well, well, well, he’s finally done it. Bush has managed to convince even Republicans that he’s a terrible leader. I’ve been wondering what it would take to wake up the sheeple, turns out it’s selling our port operations to Dubai. Whatever, as long as their eyes are even halfway open, I say we start talking and put an end to this nightmare once and for all.

As I speculated last week, the Republican leadership has already begun changing its tune, making acquiescing noises and considering maybe they jumped on the bandwagon a bit too soon. I have no doubt that Bush and Rove have enough dirt in their bag of tricks to convince at least some members of Congress to support the deal, but selling it to John and Jane Doe-eyes will be a tough one. They finally feel betrayed by this President. Bush has scared the crap out of his base and now he’s shown them he doesn’t really give a damn about their safety. Now is the time to roll out a new slogan for the Democrats, “Let us do it. We’re better at it.”

Now that conservatism is no longer about smaller government, what with Bush growing the size of government exponentially, Republicans have shown that they are incapable of handling the task. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering their entire political philosophy is based on the assumption that government is bad and corporations are good. Now that they have been in complete control of all branches of government, they’ve been able to test their theories (again) and it turns out (again) that the average American is getting the shaft. Republicans don’t like government agencies, and as a result, they have no idea how to run them effectively. In a post 9/11 world, it is critical that our government work like a finely tuned, well-oiled machine and Republicans are simply clogging up the works. The American people seem acutely aware right now that government is the only entity trustworthy enough to provide for our security, and Democrats are poised to show that they are the only ones who can protect us. That is, if they can kick their addiction to picking the wrong message at the wrong time and losing every battle with gusto.

The Republicans have been telling us since 9/11 that they can’t screen all the containers coming into our ports. Then let us do it, we’ll show you how it’s done. Republicans can’t win this war in Iraq, so fine, step aside and let the adults clean up the mess. We know how to nation build, an exercise Republicans abhor, so let us do it. Yes, they broke it when we told them not to, but whatever, we can rebuild Iraq. First step is getting Halliburton out and the UN in. Second is getting rid of the insane tax breaks for the wealthy and make Corporate America share in the burden of war rather than letting them get away with war profiteering. The American people want a plan from the Democrats, so give it to them. Lay it out, step by step, this is what we will do to secure our ports, our nuclear facilities, our critical infrastructure and this is what we will do to mitigate the damage caused by the neo-cons in Iraq and this is what we will do to start re-building our own country and get us out of debt. Be specific, take a few of the problems, give concrete solutions and then just repeat, repeat, repeat any time there is a camera or more than one person in any room. It’s not rocket science.

Now is the time to be a little condescending. Frame the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans as little kids that simply don’t understand how things work in the real world. Talk about their willingness to believe in fairy tales like PNAC and the idea that Democracy is a gift we can bestow on others by using our military might. Expose their incompetence and paint them as weak, ineffectual and in way over their heads. They don’t like bureaucracy, but even worse, they don’t know how it works. Tell the American people that we will not outsource our security, that government is the only entity capable of protecting the homeland. And who knows government better than Democrats? Republicans are the party of privatization, where decisions are based on profits, Democrats are the party of government, where decisions are based on the common good. We are the only ones who can secure the homeland. We are the only ones who can fix Iraq. We are the only ones with any credibility on the world stage. We are the only ones who can make sure what happened in New Orleans never happens again. We are the only ones who can adequately plan for a bird flu pandemic. We are the only ones who can help America kick the oil habit (Republicans are the pushers after all). We are the only ones who can make America great again. “Let us do it. We’re better at it.”

Monday, February 27, 2006

Popularity Contest

There is a movement afoot to circumvent the Electoral College and have the Presidency decided by the popular vote. This is an idea that gained popularity after the 2000 election when Gore won the popular vote but Bush was awarded the Presidency. The Constitution is clear on how the President is to be elected, by winning 270 electoral votes, but how those votes are dispersed is left up to the states. This new plan involves passing laws in state legislatures across the country that agree to cast all of their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. What this means is that once enough states agree to the new system that will guarantee 270 electors to the popular vote winner, the rest of the country will, for all practical purposes, be adhering to the new system as well. And, written into the laws is the stipulation that they won’t go into effect until the 270 electoral vote count has been reached. Pretty smart, no?

If this movement takes off, it will mean a radical shift in the way political campaigns are run. No more focusing money, time and attention solely on the battleground states. Presidential campaigns will be national again and states like California and New York will no longer be ignored and blue cities in red states will have reason to go to the polls en masse. There will also be a huge motivation for those of us living in blue cities in blue states to get as many people to the polls as possible, where right now we focus only on getting as many as we need. Image what would happen if it really meant something to go to the polls again. We might actually see 98% turnout in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Austin, Portland, Cleveland, and the myriad of other cities around the country. There really are so many more of us than there are of them, and this could really make the difference in motivating the nearly 50% who simply stay home on election day.

Regardless of where you live, your vote will matter. I imagine that if you’re a Democrat living in Mississippi, Utah, Texas, Alabama, or a host of other “red states”, Election Day can be summed up with, "why bother?" But if the popular vote is what determines the election, that defeatist thinking goes away because every vote could swing an entire election. I don’t see the downside of this beyond the annoyance of having all of, say California’s electoral votes being cast for, say Pat Buchanan when there’s no way in hell he could ever win that state. But that would only happen if Pat Buchanan won a plurality of votes throughout the entire country and if that were the case, we’d have much bigger problems on our hands than how one state cast its electoral votes. The presidency is the only office we vote for as a country and I think that the popular will of the people should mean something. If it did, we wouldn’t be where we are now, that’s for sure.

Under this new system every vote would matter again, but that all means shit if the votes aren’t tallied correctly. The rider on these bills should include the stipulation that all ballots are cast on paper, separate from the state, city and county ballot, all tallied by hand in a glass encased room with citizens and reporters on the other side of the windows. Low-tech is the answer to our electile dysfunction. If we can’t even master the basics, we’re not ready for the big fancy tricks. No electronic voting, no computerized tabulating and no private ownership of our voting systems. Print the ballots on government paper, issue government pens and let citizens count the votes, one at a time and out in the open. If we have to make precincts smaller in order to do it and if we have to wait weeks to find out who won, so be it. This is too important to ignore and we have seen the damage that can result by simply not paying attention and by accepting faith as a substiture for accuracy and accountability. Let’s not make the same mistake again.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down, But You Can Piss Her Off

My grandmother will be having her 8oth birthday this summer, and to look at her or spend any time with her, that fact would surely shock you.  She still rides her bike daily, still bowls with her girlfriends and loves to go out dancing.  She’s a beautiful, vibrant woman who reads her local paper each morning, watches the national news each night and has an opinion on just about everything.  When I look at her, I can’t help but hope I am glimpsing my own future.  Some day I want to be a beautiful 80 year-old woman who still cares what happens to the world around me.  

She’s a saucy little activist too.  Last summer when there was so much talk of mosquitoes spreading West Nile Virus, she noticed a clogged drain on her bike route that was causing a rather large pool of standing water.  She contacted the city, but still the pool sat and the mosquitoes multiplied.  She took matters into her own hands.  She made a sign that read “WARNING, West Nile Virus Breeding Ground!” nailed it to a wooden stake, strapped it on her bike and rode to the spot and hammered her warning into the ground.  Needless to say, in a matter of days the drain was fixed and the water was gone.  Ask her about it and she’ll likely say, “Well Jesus, there were kids playing all around there.  This town is run by idiots.”  You go Nana!

She lives in a small but growing town and there was recently a controversy over the expansion of the only hospital there.  Everyone recognizes that the hospital must expand to accommodate the growing population and that it will create more jobs in the area.  But there are people who live around the hospital who are concerned about growing traffic and helicopter noise.  One of the city planning commissioners took up the cause of the neighbors and during a hearing said that the concerns of the neighborhood had to be weighed against helicopter flights that carry “82-year-old people who are going to live for a year and a half anyway.”  This callous quote made it into the local paper, and when my Nana read it, she was pissed.

The statement started a firestorm in the community and it was in the papers all week.  Should the commissioner be fired?  What was he thinking?  And there were plenty of Letters To The Editor from angry senior citizens.  Also in the papers that week was news that the Bush administration was cutting funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) that provides food for 420,000 low-income seniors each month.  Even on a good day, my Nana can’t stand Mr. Bush.  In fact I went for a visit several years ago and I was reading Molly Ivan’s book “Shrub” that had a picture of Georgie on the back.  Nana asked what I was reading and I held it up with the picture facing her and she instantly turned red and said “Oh, that little prick.”  For the rest of my visit, I would occasionally hold up the picture and each time she had the same involuntary reaction and the same words came out of her mouth.  It was so funny that I had a hard time stopping.

Anyway, on the heels of the planning commissioner’s ageist comment, reading about the cuts to CSFP sent my Nana over the edge.  “Why don’t they just round us all up and shoot us then if they don’t want us around?” she asked.  My Nana luckily doesn’t have to rely on food from the government to make it by, nor is she likely to have need for a helicopter ride to the hospital that is only a few miles from her home, but the affects of city, state and national policy that diminishes the value of our senior citizens, takes an emotional and psychological toll.  The Bush administration has set the tone and it’s trickling down to state and local government as well.

My Nana was a hard working single mother in the 60s and managed to raise four beautiful daughters on the pittance she earned sorting nuts on a conveyer belt in the local nut factory.  She worked that job until after I was born (when the factory closed its doors) and she switched to retail to supplement her social security (surprise, surprise, no retirement plan at the nut factory).  Once retail was no longer an option, mind you she could still do it but she was “too old” to get hired anywhere, she started babysitting my younger cousins and cleaning houses (in her 70s), to make ends meet.  And now, on the cusp of her 80th year, after a lifetime of hard work, she must navigate a prescription drug plan that was designed not for her, but for Big Pharma, fight against privatization of the only income she’s got left (that she earned) and on top of all that, listen to city officials insult her and watch the Bush administration devalue her generation’s contribution to this country and strip them of the last shreds of their dignity.  I’m with you Nana, what a prick!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

When The Truth Is Old News

If our government was a corporation, we would have already gone the way of Arbusto and Enron, bled dry and bankrupt at the hands of incompetents and criminals. But America isn’t a corporation and what is happening at the hands of BushCo is not your average pillaging. We are the victims of a home invasion style robbery, but instead of taking the loot and hightailing it out, the violent thieves have moved in and are showing no signs of leaving. We are being terrorized on a daily basis and most of us are too stunned at the brazenness exhibited by these ruthless thieves to formulate a plan to kick them out. And due to the long-term exposure, the rest are suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

The truth of any situation involving Bush administration officials is common knowledge among the DC elite, including the reporters and media types that cover them, and the truth is usually in direct conflict with Scott McClellan’s talking points that are dutifully pass on to the public by the White House Press Corps. The truth is also common knowledge among us thinking people, although we are usually basing our knowledge on common sense, guesswork and the statements from the occasional loose-lipped staffer, what with all the beltway insiders keeping the facts to themselves. And as the saying goes, the truth does eventually come out, but by the time it does, it’s old news so why bother reporting it? “We already knew that Cheney was drunk as a skunk when he shot old Harry, and you did too, so what’s the big deal about a few Secret Service guys coming forward to confirm it?”

The big deal is that the MSM peddled this lie to the sheeple for days on end, they repeated over and over that the VP was not drunk and that even the accusation was scurrilous and one more example of liberal smear politics. They may have know the truth, and we may have known the truth, but the dolts watching Fox News (and CNN and MSNBC) will forever believe that it was Harry Whittington’s fault for magically appearing in front of Cheney’s bullet, unless the MSM corrects the story. But that will never happen, it’s old news and the Dubai port deal is the newest outrage. When you’re in trouble for going on a drunken shooting rampage, just sell American ports to a country with ties to Al Qaeda and viola, you’re off the hook. Just when we think they can’t top themselves, they do.

We’ve seen this same thing before, many times. In DC, it was common knowledge that Rove and Libby were the ones who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to reporters. It was common knowledge that the administration was hyping intelligence on Iraq. I wonder what else we’re out here screaming about that is “common knowledge” in DC. Is it common knowledge that Rove had several hackers on the payroll that fixed the last several elections? Is it common knowledge that the ’06 midterms are already decided? Is it common knowledge that the NSA is spying on average Americans who dare speak out against Bush policies? Is it common knowledge that Halliburton is building detention centers for said Americans? If any of these things are proven true after the fact, there won’t be any mention of it anywhere because it will be old news to the beltway insiders. Besides, if any of these stories did magically gain some traction, BushCo will just reveal something even more horrific that will quickly be moved to the front burner, well, until it’s proven true when it will promptly be moved off the radar screen entirely. And on and on and on...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Words Of War

Just like “private accounts” became “personal accounts” when Bush was out selling the privatization of Social Security, civil war has now been renamed “endangered future” when discussing the situation in Iraq.  Isn’t that nice?

Raw Story has caught The New York Times changing their story again.  Early this morning the NYT filed an article on their website with the headline “U.S. Envoy in Baghdad Says Iraq Is on Brink of Civil War” that was soon changed to “U.S. Envoy Says Sectarian Violence Threatens Iraq's Future.”  Glad to see the paper of record is still an independent news source unabashedly reporting the truth as they see it without cowing to pressure from the White House.  I’m sure that White House surrogates and brown nosed Republican Congressmen have all received the memo by now so expect to hear much about Iraq’s “endangered future” in the coming weeks.  That Frank Luntz doesn’t miss a beat.

The great thing about referring to Iraq’s burgeoning civil war as their “endangered future” is that it sounds like something we have some control over.  If our invasion of Iraq results in a civil war that we can’t control, we will be forced to retreat in defeat.  But selling the 38% who still find the Bush administration credible on the idea that we have to stay and take American casualties in order to protect the endangered future of Iraq should be a piece of cake.  Sure, it’s a cake with an IED buried in the center, but whatever, cake is cake right?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Corporations Are People Too

“The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.” Chief Justice Waite, 1886

We have all gathered here today to mark the 120th anniversary of our emancipation, the day that we were no longer relegated to the shadows, that beautiful day when we were finally allowed the rights of citizenship that had previously been denied us. The wisdom of Chief Justice Waite has led us to this point, but we are a small way down the path toward full citizenship. We may not have bodies, but does that mean we don’t deserve the same rights enjoyed by bodied people? Of course not, but it has been a long and hard fought battle to acquire the rights taken for granted by the bodies, and my friends, we must keep fighting until we reach the promised land, where corporations are finally free of the constraints on our freedoms and we no longer have to suffer the indignity of being second class citizens of this great country.

Over the last century, we have made some significant gains, but there are several key issues that we must work to rectify. There have been limits placed on our ability to contribute money to political candidates of our choice, limits placed on our right to marry whom we chose and we still to this day are denied the right to vote.

First on our agenda is to stop these so-called “campaign finance reform” laws from taking hold. We have been restricted as much as we are willing to abide by. Luckily we have found loopholes in the current laws that have allowed us to exert our influence on lawmakers. Who do the bodies think they are trying to cut us out of the system entirely? The bodied folk better remember who puts food on their table before they attempt to shut us off from our constitutional right to select our leaders. Sorry to get so tough, I know some of you bodies are on our side, but the bigots among your kind really get to me sometimes.

I hear a lot of talk about how homosexuals should have the right to marry, well, what about us? The government still regulates who we can and cannot marry, where’s the outrage about that? It’s time we stand firm and organize and make sure that we further our rights. Anti-trust laws are bigotry, plain and simple, and we must do all we can to fight the restrictions against our right to choose our own partners. Freedom of choice, that’s what it’s all about.

Next on our agenda is finally acquiring the right to vote. Blacks, women, hell even eighteen year old snot nosed kids have been give a right that is still denied to us. This is America, the land of the free, the home of the brave and it’s way past time for us to be given full citizenship and the right to vote. Power to the people man! Our time has come, and I say none of that one man, one vote crap for us. We are bigger than one man and we should be treated as such. We should be given a vote that is equal in size to our burden as citizens. We pay more taxes than one man so a similar formula must be devised that will give us an equal say in who runs our government.

We must be bold in our vision and in our action. We need to set our sights high and not settle merely for the rights the bodies have, but instead make them envy the rights that we enjoy. Let’s take advantage of the fact that we have no arms, no legs and no brain. Without a brain, we can’t form intent, which makes it impossible for us to be held accountable for any crime we might commit. We are not just citizens, but super-citizens. Take that human people!

And lastly, let us remember that this is not just an American struggle. Fewer and fewer of us actually originate or live in this country, but we are all in this together. We will fight tooth and nail to make sure that the rights we enjoy are extended to our foreign brothers as well, for we are bonded by our common goals, our common dreams and our common view of the world. What benefits one, will benefit all. If we stand firm together, we will one day see a country where there are no restrictions on our movements, practices, associations or our destinies, but where we enjoy the protections and rights ensured by the constitution. We are almost there my friends, and together, we can make our grandfathers’ dream a reality. Won’t it be beautiful?

Gone Skating

I may not get a chance to blog today as my nine-year-old daughter, who’s been so enthralled by the Winter Olympics, has talked me into to taking her ice skating today.  I have a feeling we will both have renewed appreciation for the figure skaters that we’ll watch later tonight after we spend the day falling on our butts.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Drinking Liberally Podcast

I have started going to my local Drinking Liberally get together and the best part has been participating in the weekly podcast. It’s just a bunch of bloggers and activists sitting around discussing the topics of the day. It’s fun to take part in, I’m not sure what it will be like to listen to, but if you’re so inclined take a listen and let me know, but be forewarned, there's a lot of local Seattle political talk (podcast found here). I’m the only female on the panel so my voice is easily recognizable. Thanks to Goldy at HorsesAss for hosting it on his site and thanks to Gavin and Richard for making it happen. Taking part in this week’s podcast were The Belltowner, Darryl from Hominid Views, Carl Ballard from the Washington State Political Report, Lee from Blog Reload, Daniel from On the Road to 2008, and Gavin at Gavin Shearer.com.

Fear And Bigotry Bite Bush On The Ass

The Bush administration has given the okay for a company owned by the United Arab Emirates to take control of six major US ports on the east coast. President Bush said Tuesday that he would veto any effort by the Congress to halt the sale and Tom Ridge went on Hardball to inform us that we shouldn’t worry about the security aspect of the sale because it was approved by Donald “I can lose a war but good” Rumsfeld, Condi “I ignored the PDB that said Osama bin Laden determined to strike inside US” Rice, Alberto “torturing people will make us friends around the world, I’m sure of it” Gonzales and Michael “forget terrorism, I can’t even handle a hurricane” Chertoff. Yeah, I feel better already.

Besides the fact that support for this sale makes Bush look incompetent and uninterested in protecting the homeland, this is a political blunder of epic proportions. Not only are Bill Frist, Denny Hastert and Curt Weldon speaking out against the sale, but even right wing radio is flooded with calls, few if any in support of the sale. It’s hard to imagine that Karl Rove would make such an oversight, relying as he does on the bigotry and fear of Bush’s most fervent supporters. The Bush administration has spent six years instilling fear of terrorism and fueling hatred of Arabs and Muslims within their base, they shouldn’t be surprised now that these same people are upset at the prospect of an Arab country taking control of American ports. Any idiot could have seen this coming, even Rove and Bush, which leaves the impression that there must be something in this secret deal worth taking this heat over.

With Bush’s support hovering in the high 30% range and his base up in arms about this sale, we may yet see the President's support reach new all time lows. Republicans seeking reelection this year might not want to be seen at the President's side on this one, lest they should be tagged by their Democratic opponents as “soft on terrorism.” But if we’ve learned anything from the last six years of Bush rule, it’s that they can always find a way to stop the lapdogs in Congress from yipping. We should start a pool on how long it will be before secret meetings with the White House result in full support of the sale by Hastert, Frist, Weldon and all the rest of the well-trained Republican rank and file. The real trick will be getting Joe Blow and Jane Nobrain to embrace Arab control of American ports. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it will be a trick worth watching.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Impeach The Bastard Already!

When the Downing Street Minutes surfaced, many of us thought that eventually the news would reach the newsrooms and then we’d have a real national debate over the trumped up intelligence, a White House out of control and a President guilty of impeachable offenses. Sadly, the news did reach the newsrooms of America, they just didn’t deem it important enough to broadcast to the American people. It became clear then, that it would take more than facts and official government memos to tarnish this administration’s sterling reputation in the minds of Republicans, opinion peddlers at the big papers and the chattering class on television.

Well, if lying our country into a war isn’t grounds for impeachment, what was the use in hammering away at the lesser crimes of this administration? But hammer away we did and as luck would have it, we were handed another blatant crime in the NSA domestic spying scandal. What luck, two impeachable offenses uncovered in little over a year, and this one didn’t get stuck in the newsrooms, well, sure the New York Times sat on the story for a year, but after they finally let the cat out of the bag, the rest of the MSM picked up the ball and has been running full steam ahead with the story ever since. Surely impeachment is just around the corner, right?

Bush has admitted to authorizing domestic spying of American citizens in direct violation of the law. His lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the manufactured ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda have been exposed. His penchant for cronyism and appointing political hacks and crooks to head crucial federal agencies has proven to be disastrous to the country and has resulted in billions of dollars missing in Iraq, tens of millions funneled from our pockets and onto the balance sheets of politically connected companies, and thousands of people dead in New Orleans. The majority of the country thinks we should impeach this guy if he broke the law and 85% of Democrats don’t even need the “if”. So what’s the hold up?

Yes, it is true that the Republicans control the House where articles of impeachment must originate and yes, Congressional Republicans are scared shitless to do anything to piss off Karl Rove and yes, every single talking head on television thinks that impeachment is a non starter and a losing proposition for Democrats, but so what? We have a President who broke the law. It is our duty to impeach him, regardless of what the pundits say.

Republicans are on Karl’s short leash so they are certainly not going to talk out of school, but the Democrats need to start using impeachment in every sentence, hell, make it every other word. Lied to Congress, impeach. Lied to the American people, impeach. Broke the law, impeach. Spit on the constitution, impeach. He’s President not King, impeach. Corruption, impeach. See, it’s easy once you get the hang of it.

Are The Floodgates Finally Giving Way?

There is a sense that we are on the verge of something big. It might be the tension of the upcoming mid-term elections where a shift in power could easily result in articles of impeachment and real investigations into pre-war intelligence, the Republicans’ “pay to play” style of governing, electronic voting machines and the NSA secret domestic spying program. It also might be a pre-emptive strike on Iran using nuclear warheads or an economic catastrophe caused by the opening of an Iranian Oil Bourse. It could be the CIA leak investigation coming to a head with startling revelations that we haven’t dare to even hope for or credible evidence of vote fraud as Diebold’s records are sifted through by prosecutors and SEC investigators looking into allegations of securities fraud. And of course it could be the realization by the sleepwalking masses that Peak Oil is a reality that must be dealt with and that will likely bring personal pain to individuals because of our lack of national action in preparing for the inevitable. Or the biggest fear of all, an acknowledgement by our government that we have been a fascist country for a long time, we just weren’t let in on the secret.

Whatever the cause of our collective anxiety, dread and confusion the fact is, it’s permeating our culture and we are all at different levels of understanding, preparedness and acceptance of the facts we have absorbed.

Puma, over at Past Is Prologue, posted her feelings about the mysterious “it” and when I read it, I was moved because I too had been attempting to put these feelings into words. Living under the rule of such a secretive government, it’s hard not to feel uneasy as they refuse to confirm or deny what we hear and read from foreign news sources. Whatever is coming will surely be a shock to most Americans because so few of us make the effort to learn what our government is doing let alone explore the realities of the rest of the world. The world is so clearly dividing up into two camps and most of us don’t even know it’s happening, or that we are increasingly alone in our pursuits.

Max Wyvern over at My Left Wing also wrote a nice piece about coming to terms with Peak Oil in which he describes his own personal journey of accepting the reality and how he integrated the information into his life. It is a challenge that we face, not becoming paralyzed by fear of the unknown or feeling impotent to affect any change. We are still here, still living and breathing and whether we like it or not, we must be ready and willing to deal with whatever comes our way. Being aware that we are in a precarious position doesn’t mean we have to be physically prepared for any eventuality, but it does mean that we must be psychologically prepared for our view of the world to be shattered. Doing so will make us better prepared to deal with any chaos looming on the horizon.

I try to believe that a radical shift in the way America views itself and how Americans have grown accustomed to living, might not be a bad thing. We have become so divided and so isolated from one another that anything that brings back concern for and reliance upon community can only make us better. As a society, we have forgotten that everything on this planet is interconnected. What we do affects everything else around us and we have been bad global citizens for a very long time. If we are forced to acknowledge our responsibilities to our neighbors, our towns, our cities, it won’t be long before we are able to realize we have ties as well to people around the globe that we will never even meet. Our consumption may come at a small price to us, but that is only because someone else has been paying the balance, and the bill we have run up will have to be paid. Sure, there will be some pain involved in giving back, but a radical shift in our philosophy as a country could be the end result. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Marketplace Of Ideas Is Short On Big Name Shoppers

The need for leaders to carry the message of liberals in this country has reached its pinnacle, but who those leaders will be is yet to be determined. There is a democracy of ideas that is growing on the net, with so many lefty bloggers putting out new ideas and the readers of the blogs who give right back. It is a marketplace that is growing every day and the products being sold are hope, ideas and an opportunity to have your opinion heard. It can’t be long before some smart upstart is able to capitalize on the vitality and passion that is ripe for the picking and free to whomever chooses to harvest the best ideas and whittle them down into a cohesive platform with populist appeal.

Bernard Henri Levi wrote a wonderful article published in the San Francisco Gate titled, “When the left is not right in America: Lifeless liberals show a hunger for leadership on their causes”, in which he outlines the lack of political or cultural leaders willing to espouse liberal ideals. While I disagree with some of what he puts forth in this piece, for example his narrow scope of who is considered an “intellectual writer” and his chastising of Gore Vidal for not speaking out when I have read several great writings from Mr. Vidal recently (like this, this, this and a bit earlier, this), I do agree that we are sorely lacking in leadership. But with the advent of the Internet and the surge of liberal and progressive blogs, the landscape of political thought, protest and dialogue has changed dramatically. It’s not just the books, paintings, poems and music from the most well known artists where the energy is found. It is now found on the tens of thousands of lefty blogs that have anywhere from several hundred to several hundred thousand readers a day and independent artists and musicians who can now sell their wares on their own terms, bypassing the corporate censor machine.

This new political force is being resisted by old leaders who see any threat to their entrenched power in purely negative terms and the media elite who see their readership being plucked away by blogs that offer a more realistic view of our world and that often delve into subjects considered taboo by the corporate owners and the editors who are too meek to fight their bosses on behalf of their reporters. And unlike newspapers and television news shows, there is an opportunity for readers and viewers to be actively involved. They can instantly critique what they read and even throw in their two cents with the added satisfaction of having their opinions known to the author and other readers. This creates a dialogue that can only help hone the ideas and grow the community of people who are willing and able to make a contribution.

William Beutler wrote an article for The Washington Examiner on Friday titled “Politics and the risks of online activism” (that was beautifully picked apart by Matt Stoller at MyDD by the way) and in it he equates liberal bloggers with the conservative group Club For Growth, but without the accountability factor. Beutler contends that by encouraging readers to contribute money to primary challengers to incumbent Democrats that have failed us, bloggers are unnecessarily bloodying the Democratic candidates with the best shot at winning. This is just more beltway conventional wisdom crap that defies reality and refuses to acknowledge that we the people have a role to play in the democratic process.

Politics is not merely a numbers game. While it is important to know the numbers and to know where the best chances of winning are, it is more important to appeal to the voters in every district of this country. Calculating exactly what position they should take on any given issue based on the number of votes gained by that position is hallow politics plain and simple. Inside the beltway politicians, lobbyists, staffers and the reporters who cover them for the mainstream media may be getting bent out of shape by liberal bloggers who are changing the rules of the game, but they better adapt to the new political landscape or risk being left behind.

Lefty bloggers are making elections more about the process and the people and less about the strategy that has been traditionally hatched by the party elite. Where the message of candidates used to be tightly controlled and beltway reporters were the only avenue for getting the message out, the lefty bloggers have changed the face of politics and it is beginning to resemble democracy again. When individual bloggers can promote primary candidates that would, in the past, have been easily relegated to nearly anonymous status, the voters have more information at their fingertips and this tips the balance away from the traditional power holders. Easy to see why there’s so much resistance to the new political system but hard to see how this is bad for the Party or bad for democracy.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Bush Admimistration Suffering From Xeroderma Pigmentosum

Why is it that we are so willing to believe the worst about the Bush administration? Many of us believe that the 9/11 Commission Report is too full of holes to be an adequate explanation of what happened that day, that Bush and Co. not only massaged and cherry-picked intelligence, but also downright manufactured it to bolster their case for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq. We believe that Valerie Plame was outed by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in an orchestrated attempt to not only silence and discredit her husband Joe Wilson, but also to muddy the intelligence pool so as to make it easier to make false claims about Iranian nuclear capabilities. We believe that Dick Cheney allowed oil industry executives to write our energy policy in secret meetings that to this day we are not allowed to see the records of, and now we believe that he is hiding the facts surrounding his shooting of his “friend” Mr. Whittington. When this administration clearly suffers from the political equivalent of xeroderma pigmentosum (sensitivity to light often resulting in retardation, deafness, poor coordination and spastic muscles), is it really any wonder that we wonder what they’re up to in a White House with the drapes tightly closed?

The secrecy with which the Bush administration operates coupled with the downright contempt they have for the press, and by extension the people, together create an atmosphere of distrust and provide a fertile breeding ground for conspiracy theories. What are theories but the best possible guess, most logical conclusion based on incomplete data? With an administration classifying more documents than any other before them, we are forced to either accept their explanations on faith, or rely on leaked information, omitted facts and the end results of their actions from which we can draw logical conclusions of our own. As with everything else in our country, we seem to be split down the middle, with half the country taking the faith option and half of us left trying to make sense of the disparate pieces of information we find.

Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote an article for the New York Observer this past week titled “Government Secrecy Inspires Conspiracy, Paranoia and Rumors” and in it he writes, “One of the salient characteristics of an authoritarian or a totalitarian society is the part played by rumors, whispers, speculation, tattle-tales, and the sly humor of cynical people accustomed to a civic and political life in which lies alternate with silence. Such a society is hallmarked by the prevalence of conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking.” It seems that many of us are already living as if we were under authoritarian control, and in our minds at least, we are. The growing transparency with which we are asked to live, monitored phone calls and internet activity, virtual strip searches at airports conducted by machines that give an x-rated view of our bodies, laws that allow “sneak and peak” intrusions into our homes without warrant or probably cause, library records tracked, is certainly not matched by our government. While we are forced into glass houses, this administration has erected a lead wall around the White House that allows no outside light to be shined on it and will tolerate no question to its authority.

Is it any wonder that there are conspiracy theories abounding? Conspiracy theories derive from inadequate official explanations that willfully ignore relevant facts that, when discovered, form the nut of an alternate account. Take the 9/11 Commission Report, for example. There was inadequate information relating to the practice military maneuvers being conducted that day by Dick Cheney, all information regarding Able Danger was scrubbed from the report because according to the commissioners, it was irrelevant, and the simple fact that the WTC towers fell in a freefall fashion reminiscent of a controlled demolition rather than a collapse by fire (an event that has never occurred before anywhere in a building of that size), all raised questions about the validity of the explanations given in the final report issued by the 9/11 Commission. Of course there would be people left unconvinced, who would then track down the missing data and use it to form an alternative and more logical accounting of the event.

When the government hides from its citizens the relevant facts, we the people begin to question why this information is being withheld. Conspiracy theories are our best attempt to understand what is left unexplained. Another example is the Iraq War and the classified information that was used in making the decision to go to war. We now know that the intelligence was faulty, massaged and in some cases downright manufactured. Why the secrecy? Rational people aren’t capable of ignoring relevant facts and therefore we turn to alternate explanations based on leaked classified data like the Downing Street Minutes, mixed with logical conclusions taking into account the results. If we look at who benefited most from the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it seems likely they were not merely unintended consequences, but foreseeable outcomes that helped form the intent.

The outing of Valerie Plame is another good example of the secrecy with which this administration operates and the more we learn about the details of her exposure by Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, the more it looks like the intent was more than just retaliatory. It has been reported that Plame was in fact working on nuclear proliferation at the time she was outed and even more disturbing, her work was focused on Iran. Was her operation halted in an effort to muddy the waters, to allow for the obscuring of facts to make it easier for the Bush administration to make a case for a pre-emptive strike on Iran? With an administration so secretive and with such blatant contempt for the people’s right to know what our government is doing, it’s no wonder so many have a negative view and are so willing to believe that they have sinister motives. When the results of the Bush administration actions consistently proves beneficial to their friends and business associates, it defies logic that these benefits were not intended. Hindsight often weakens the Bush administrations official accounts and strengthens the alternative theories put forth.

Given his track record of secrecy and contempt for the American people, it’s not surprising that Dick Cheney’s account of what happened on that Texas Ranch is being questioned. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that his shooting his friend in the face and chest was anything other than a terrible accident. But because we know him and his penchant for lying and conducting his business behind closed doors, we do question his account. And his actions after the incident, not talking immediately to the local authorities, not alerting the press and refusing to answer questions publicly, only reinforce the feeling that he’s got something to hide. Our experience tells us that he isn’t a straight shooter, in hunting or governing.

If sunlight is the best disinfectant, we can only assume that the Bush White House is one dirty place. They continually promote the idea that if citizens don’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t be concerned with NSA, Pentagon or FBI spying and infringements on our right to privacy, but what about them? The more they hide, the more we question their motives for doing so. Transparency in government is as essential to democracy as the freedoms laid out in the Bill of Rights. When we are asked to give up those things, we are being asked to give up on our democracy. What does it say about us that we are even willing to consider surrendering any of them?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Takes Responsibility But Says It Was The Right Call

In an exclusive interview with Fox News (was there ever any doubt) Cheney tells the public, “I’m the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.” He takes responsibility for the incident, hard not to at this point, but he defends the manner in which the story was released to the public. “I didn’t have a press person with me and Katherine was a witness,” was the explanation given for not getting the story out sooner and why it was left to Katherine Armstrong (one of the owners of the ranch) to get the story out. Cheney defends that decision and said that he still feels it was “the right call.”

Fox News is releasing the interview in snippets and so far Cheney has not provided any real details about the incident itself that could explain how it happened. Those details will probably be held close to the vest in case Harry Whittington doesn’t pull through, in which case there could be a grand jury investigation. Not that it really matters, we’ve all seen Cheney watch a television clip of himself speaking and still say with a straight face, “I didn’t say that.”

It will be interesting to see if that kind of bald faced lying will work with the jury in the Scooter Libby’s case or the grand jury he may face as a result of shooting his friend. Doubtful, but with this crew, you never know what they’ll do next and they are masters of getting out of sticky situations. It feels like every time they get caught doing something wrong, illegal or immoral, they just up the ante and do something worse to take the pressure off. We’ve now reached the point of them shooting their friends, what’s the next step? I’m afraid to know, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

Robert Parry Takes On The Democratic Leadership

The drumbeat of change being hammered out by liberals and progressives is getting louder and louder.  Let’s hope that the noise will become so deafening that it will finally penetrate the thick skulls of the Democratic Party leadership.  Robert Parry at Consortium News weighs in on the Hackett fiasco in Ohio and the tin ear of the Washington insiders in his article, “Party Leaders ‘Betray’ Hackett”.

The only thing worse than Republican rule, is the Democrats utter failure to be even a speed bump on the road to fascism.  

My Dad Writes Another Funny

If you have ever wondered, as I have, why Chris Matthews seems to have joined the evil empire and shifted dramatically to the right, Mark W. Bradley tells a tale that might explain it. The Windbag in the Willows: How Christopher Rabbit Lost His Stones. "Many summer days would find him paddling around contentedly in the Main Stream, always swimming in the direction of the current, and laughing all the way to the bank." Ain't that the truth. Nice job Mr. Bradley.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

About The Hackett Mess In Ohio

There is plenty of blame to go around in the Ohio fiasco, and after reading Paul Hackett’s statement regarding his withdrawal from the Senate race in his state, he has earned his sliver of the pie as well.

He closes his statement with this, “Remember, we must retool our party. We must do more than simply aspire to deliver greatness; we must have the commitment and will to fight for what is great about our party and our country; Peace, prosperity and the freedoms that define our democracy.”  Then stick it out and run anyway, regardless of what the Party leadership says.  This inconsistency is a bit irritating for those of us who were behind him in his efforts to shake up the party and win a Senate race by straight talking the voters.  If he couldn’t reach a negotiated settlement with the Party, he should have kept going and let the chips fall where they may.  It would have been a great primary and in the end, the loser could have gotten behind the winner in the real fight against the Republican incumbent.   By ending his campaign on such a sour note, he has turned himself into a martyr and turned his supporters into cynics who may stay home in November instead of supporting a progressive candidate like Sherrod Brown.

In all fairness to Hackett, he did enter the Senate race first, while Sherrod Brown was still dithering around trying to decide whether or not he was interested.  When Rep. Brown saw that the race was on and Hackett was willing to do what he himself would not, he should have jumped on board and supported Hackett’s bid.  And so should have the national party apparatus.  It’s not as if Hackett was some nobody with no name recognition, he had almost pulled off a miracle in his Republican district last year.  He had a great message, crossover appeal, progressives excited and bloggers on his side who have proven they can bring in the campaign cash.  When they had a good candidate, the DNC should have ceased trying to recruit for a job that was already filled and got behind the candidate they had.

Recruiting Sherrod Brown to run for the Senate seat based on the “conventional wisdom” bullshit amongst the elites that Brown had better name recognition and therefore had a better shot, has resulted in huge problems in Ohio that can be laid squarely at the feet of the Party leadership.   They have micro-managed democracy to the point of alienating voters, but this seems to be the greatest skill honed by Democrats over the last ten years.  If the Democratic Party leadership is going to clear the way for the candidate of their choice through intimidation and behind the scenes manipulation of the money donors, then let’s due away with primaries altogether.  What good is a primary of one exactly?

Either the Democratic Party believes in democracy and our right as voters to select the candidate of our choice, or they don’t.  The Party leaders who strong-armed Hackett into quitting the race in the name of “party unity” have failed miserably in achieving that goal and have instead managed only in splitting the Party in Ohio in two.  They haven’t yet figured out that unintended consequences can be devastating when it comes to policy decisions, let’s hope they are a bit quicker on the uptake when it comes to political ones.  The most detrimental consequence of the Democrats myopic view of this particular Senate race may prove to be the reluctance of other war veterans to run for office on our ticket, along with the alienation of veterans who would have been inclined to vote for them.  These are men and women who place their very lives in the hands of those with whom they serve, making trust and loyalty a crucial part of who they are.  By backing out on their promise to support Hackett’s candidacy, the Democrats have shot themselves in the foot yet again.  Next time the leadership wants to preach to us about party unity, how about they first demonstrate that they understand what that means.  Here’s a hint:  it cuts both ways.  

There is a silver lining to this mess though, and that is that Sherrod Brown is not a centrist Democrat, he is a progressive with a long record of supporting the issues that we care about most.  He voted against the war, against the Bankruptcy Bill, against re-authorization of the Patriot Act and led the fight against CAFTA.  However badly the situation was handled, the end result is still good.  This is not a case of a DINO winning out over a progressive.  This was an ugly intra-party feud that never should have happened.  It was handled badly by everyone involved, but it is by no means a loss for progressives.  While the top down dictation by party leaders in selecting the candidate of their choice is a problem we must all be willing to go to the mat in order to fix, this particular race, in the end, was a choice between two great candidates so we could hardly lose.

Progressives should wash the bad taste out of our mouths and get behind Sherrod Brown.  He may lose, as he doesn’t have the crossover appeal that Hackett had (and those damn Diebold machines are still a problem), but he will surely lose without our support and regardless of how we feel about the way he entered the race, his record is one we can be proud of.  This is a high-class problem for those of us on the left, two good candidates rather than the one bad one we’re so used to.  If Brown will stay on message, take a lesson from Hackett and not only push hard a progressive agenda that benefits working Ohioans but shout it out at the top of his lungs, he’s got a very good chance of winning.  And Paul Hackett should help make that happen, regardless of whether or not he was personally treated badly by the Party.  There is no rest for the weary and this is going to be a long struggle.  Like he said, “we must have the commitment and will to fight for what is great about our party and our country”.  Don’t waste too much time licking your wounds Mr. Hackett, we need you on the frontlines.  

Monday, February 13, 2006

We’re Hyperventilating From Sucking It Up

We’ve been suckered into believing that there are but two ways to look at the upcoming mid-term elections, strategically and philosophically. Strategic advice is coming from the political party hacks and the incumbents who will be defending their seats, and their advice is, don’t run against us and don’t support primary challengers because it will hurt the Party. How exactly do you hurt a dead donkey? Philosophically the incumbents have got nothing, they have long since abandoned any progressive ideals they may have once possessed. If the primary challengers can develop a winning strategy to match their progressive message, we’ve got a winner, a philosophy of governing packaged for mass consumption.

There is a lot of anger and frustration in the left wing of the Party and this is what primary challengers are hoping to cash in on and what has the party hacks a little scared. Just like Republican candidates can’t win unless the Fundamentalist preachers can drive their flock to the polls, Democrats can’t win without us. Up to this point they have been able to browbeat us into submission with fear mongering and name calling, but now we’ve had enough. We’re willing to make you lose to get a little respect, how about that? This ain’t a game of chicken, we’re serious this time.

Party unity requires negotiated compromise and up to this point, we on the left have been kicked to the kid’s table while the “adults” have made all the decisions. There hasn’t been compromise, there’s been dictation. We have compromised enough of our ideals in order to further the DLC’s great moderation experiment, and it hasn’t worked. We’re tired of being bullied and we are no longer content to be seen and not heard. We’ve tried it your way and your way sucks, time for something new.

We on the left are the true heart of the Democratic Party. We are the keepers of the flame, the protectors of the values and defenders of our greatest achievements. When all we hear from the American people is that the Democrats have no core values, no plan, no forward thinking agenda, who better to turn to than the left wing of the party for the ideas and the message that will resonate with the people. We are the center, we know exactly what we stand for and we are the solution to our current minority status.

Every time the pulse of the American people is taken by pollsters, the responses indicate that the country is headed in the wrong direction, that healthcare costs are out of control and eating into our disposable incomes, employment is a big worry as we watch our jobs outsourced to the far reaches of the globe and our production of goods decline steadily each year and we are growing tired of being an occupying force in Iraq, a boondoggle that is draining our national treasure at an alarming rate. The American people are rightly worried about our economic future and we have been brought to the critical edge by Republican policies and Democratic complicity. Republicans are on the wrong side of the issues and if incumbent Democrats want to hold onto their seats, they better get on the correct side, and fast.

The big problem for incumbent Democrats is that there are plenty of good primary challengers. So far the advice from the Party has been that we on the left need to suck it up and support the incumbents lest we lose the seat to a Republican. God forbid the incumbent Democrats should have to explain their votes in support of the Bankruptcy Bill, CAFTA, the Patriot Act and authorization of the use of force in Iraq. If they can’t sufficiently defend those votes, they must face reality and accept that they have not been on the side of the people for a very long time. If they lose in the primary to a progressive candidate with real values, a real agenda and a message that resonates, what exactly is the problem? Are centrist Democrats going to abandon the party and vote Libertarian? Perhaps they should take their own advice and suck it up and support the nominee, whoever it is?

There is no reason to believe that a progressive candidate would have a hard time going head to head with a Republican. In fact, the opposite is true. Paul Hackett ran for Congress in a predominately Republican district in Ohio on a solidly progressive agenda and he almost won (damn those Diebold machines). There is every reason to believe that this will be a winning strategy all across the country. Progressive candidates can show every voter how our philosophy of governing will benefit them directly. More money and benefits for them, a shift in the focus of government from protecting corporate profits to protecting the American worker and less government infringement on our freedoms. And that’s just for starters.

Unlike incumbent Democrats, progressives will take on big Pharma and give us a prescription benefit that makes sense and will save billions of taxpayer dollars by negotiating bulk prices. Progressives will tackle the healthcare crisis and push for single-payer healthcare that will cover all Americans and make our paychecks go twice as far. Progressives will stop regressive tax policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the poor and the middle-class. Progressives will put money where their mouth is and fund the research and production of alternative energy sources. Progressives will divert money currently wasted on imperial exploits in the Middle East toward massive public works programs that will re-build our infrastructure and put Americans back to work at decent wages. Progressives will fund education in order to make our children the best and the brightest again. And progressives will strengthen the social programs that provide a safety net for the most vulnerable among us. After all, we are the ones who instituted them in the first place.

That, my friends, is a winning strategy. Mealy-mouthed incumbent Democrats cannot challenge the Republicans on any of these issues because they too have been instrumental in dismantling the social safety net, instituting policies that benefit corporations over people and sending our young people to fight in an immoral and unnecessary war. Centrist Democrats have lost their credibility with the American people while Progressives have been out of power so long that our message will sound almost new. We can toot our own horn and remind people of what we have accomplished in the past, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, the forty hour work week, workplace protection, fair housing, civil rights, voting rights, coal mine safety, school lunch programs and the list goes on. Most of the good that government does has come from the left, while the centrists don’t even have a horn to toot. It’s time we vote our conscience and support progressive challenges to entrenched power because it’s not only philosophically sound, it’s also strategically smart.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

One More Reason Not To Spend The Day With Dick Cheney

If he will shoot his friends in the face, the rest of us haven’t got a fighting chance. I keep trying to work out the statistical plausibility of the Bush administration and the numbers just don’t add up. Beyond the statistical impossibility of Bush/Cheney’s re-election, what are the chances that a President would almost die choking on a pretzel? Considering only 2,800 people a year die from choking on any object (most of them children) and there have been only 43 Presidents, I would say that the chances are pretty slim. And how likely is it that a Vice President will accidentally shoot you in the face? Well, there have been 46 Vice Presidents and there were only 30 hunting accidents in Texas last year so again the chances are about a zillion to .0000001.

I guess what we should take away from this is that Bush and Cheney are the luckiest sons of bitches to ever walk the earth and the rest of us couldn’t possibly be any unluckier. Although my husband says that the real lesson is, if you’re a lawyer, don’t sneak up on Dick Cheney. Solid advice for sure.

Screw The Law

During the Clinton years we were bombarded 24/7 with references to the rule of law and now during Bush’s two terms, we have heard nothing but how the law doesn’t really matter. The rule of law is soooo September 10th.

The laws that were enacted before 9/11, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), are inadequate in dealing with the dangers inherent in a post 9/11 world. The President really has no option but to thwart the law in order to protect the American people from terrorism. Or, we could let the representatives of the people change the law to allow for effective means to combat terrorism while protecting our constitutional rights. But, that would assume that the Bush administration is interested in combating terrorism, and they have shown us that that is not the case, what with Bush “not spending much time” thinking about Osama bin Laden and pulling troops from Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq, a country that posed no threat to us at all. No, their sole interest is in expanding the powers of the executive branch of government and peddling fear as a means to further that end.

When the Attorney General of the United States can sit in a Senate hearing and declare that the law both means something and it doesn’t all at the same time, what are us non-lawyers to make of it? AG Gonzales argued that President Bush, in authorizing the NSA to conduct wiretapping of American citizens, was complying with the law, but only when he was not complying with it because it wasn’t necessary. Apparently the President is above the law and not above it at the same time. Gonzales is nothing if not a master of the slight of lip.

What are we citizens to take away from the stated position of the Bush administration that, like Nixon, seems to be saying that if the President does it, it’s legal? How is it possible that this very idea isn’t sending every Republican out into the streets screaming, “FOUL”? What happened to “states rights” and “the rule of law” and democracy? Are we really so scared of a few crazed fundamentalist Muslims that we are willing to beg for a Monarchy? Plead for a dictator to protect us from evil? Who knew Republicans were such wussies? One would think that with all the guns, fighting, tough talk and ostentatious displays of patriotism they’d be willing to show a little spine when the homeland was being defiled. And they call liberals wimps? Pick up a mirror.

So, the President wants to be King and the country seems to be saying, “fine with us.” Republicans are fine with the President breaking the law because there wasn’t an oval office blowjob involved and Democrats are fine with it because they don’t feel it’s a smart political move to do anything about it. If impeachment isn’t the remedy for flagrant violations of the constitution by the President, what is? Or have we quietly accepted that impeachment is only for sexual misconduct and political retribution and never to be used to remove a criminal from office? If that’s the case, we do in fact deserve the government we’ve got.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

For those of us who are tired of being bullied by the Democratic Party leadership and are done supporting incumbent candidates that have betrayed us over and over again, it is time to start actively working to support those candidates who provide us with a real alternative. Not later, but now. Read this post by Chad over at The Left Shue. It struck a chord for me, I hope it will for you too.

Things That Made Me Laugh This Week

Splitting The Difference
Nancy Greggs wrote this wonderful article providing a solution to our current political and cultural civil war. Great job Ms. Greggs, I wish I had written this, but I doubt I could have done it as well as you did. Thanks Dale for sending this my way!

The Holy Messiah Speaks To His Congressional Fan Club
Mark W. Bradley hits one out of the park with this little bit of hilarity. It’s an older article, but I just read it again and it’s still relevant (sadly) and still funny. In the spirit of full disclosure, Mark is not only a brilliant political satirist, he’s also my dad (I never claimed to be above nepotism).

Pirates and Emperors
This is kind of School House Rock for adults! It’s only a few minutes long, but beware, the song will get stuck in your head. “Pirates and Emperors they’re really the same thing!”

Welcome To Middle-Class Lockdown
Joe Bageant, as always, gives it to us straight. As hard as it is to make it into the middle-class, it is virtually impossible to get out, at least by choice.

Brokeback To The Future
YouTube has some great minds on the job, this is not political, but it is funny! Thanks to MadCat JD at Bart Cop for sending me the link.

Bush Urges End To Cartoon Violence
The article isn’t funny, but the headline (as it appeared on CNN’s web site this week) is hilarious. After reading it, I expected a media blitz of Condi, Dick, Donald and Georgie Porgy all gaggling away on the talking head shows about how SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, Puffy Amiyumi and the other terrible toons are causing the rise in terrorist violence around the world. “If we can put an end to cartoon violence, the rest will take care of itself.” Not any less crazy than everything else they come up with.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pants On Fire!

I thought it might be fun to go through the obfuscations, misrepresentations, manipulations of truth, and outright lies of the Bush administration and their Republican friends that have been exposed this past week. I know what you’re thinking, who has time to read that list? I promise it won’t be all-inclusive, not even close.

President Bush: “You know, I, frankly, don’t even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don’t know him.” Of course the President is referring to Jack Abramoff and really, who can blame him for at least attempting to sell that whopper. Think Progress has the skinny on just how well Bush doesn’t know Abramoff. Bush even invited the guy to Crawford. I wonder how many other people he doesn’t know get an invitation like that.

This is more ridiculous than a lie. John McCain was on Hardball the other day and Chris Matthew’s asked him if bi-partisanship is a thing of the past in the Senate. McCain responded by saying, “No, I continue to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle like Joe Lieberman and...um…a…um…others.” Hilarious. I hate to tell you this John, but Republicans working with Joe Lieberman is hardly a shining example of bi-partisanship. He’s practically the President’s girlfriend.

Alberto Gonzales: “President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.” Are you kidding me? Washington was one amazing fellow if he was able to authorize electronic surveillance before there was even electricity. The sad part is, this will slip right past the faith-based community where facts are irrelevant and history is only to be trusted if found in the Bible.

George Deutsch, who was appointed by Bush to stop NASA scientists from releasing their scientific findings if they clashed with the Bush agenda, is only the most recently disgraced Bush appointee to be exposed as a liar. Just like Michael Brown over at FEMA, Deutsch lied on his job application. He claimed to have a degree in journalism from Texas A&M, when in fact, he never graduated. These idiots can’t even lie right. If you’re going to fudge your resume in order to appear qualified for a job at NASA, at least say you’ve got an engineering degree from MIT. Deutsch bag (sorry Mad Cat, I couldn’t resist stealing that one)!

Bush/Brown/Chertoff all claimed, after they were skewered for their lack of response to Hurricane Katrina, that they didn’t know the levees had been breached and that they all thought they had “dodged a bullet”. What a load of crap. Congressional investigations into the failed response to Katrina have found evidence that the White House knew the levees had been breeched on the night of the storm. Of course they did, and they also knew how many people were trapped there and still, they did nothing.

And on and on it goes. It would take far less time to point out the truths that come out of Bush’s mouth and clearly someone should pull all of the resumes on file at the White House and conduct an accuracy check. Perhaps an overhaul of the vetting process is in order, I shudder to think how many criminals and traitors have been welcomed into this White House with open arms simply because they contributed money to the Bush/Cheney campaign. This may explain why there have been so many indictments and simultaneous investigations by Congress, DoJ, FBI and CIA into Bush administration officials. Wal-Mart does a better job of screening their employees than this White House, but I guess that says it all. Our government is a discount store and everything is for sale. The difference is that our government isn’t open to the public. This sale is by invitation only.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Will Green Evangelicals Make Rove See Red?

The unholy union between the neo-cons and the religious right has been a profitable one, what with taking over all three branches of government and all, but there are some cracks developing and we on the left should help turn those cracks into gaping chasms.

There is new movement within the evangelical community toward acceptance and action on the crisis of global warming.

Suzanne Goldenberg in WashingtonThursday February 9, 2006
The Guardian

"Whether you believe the Earth began 4,000 years ago, or 4bn years ago, you are still concerned with the consequences of global warming, especially for the poor," said Leith Anderson, pastor of a "mega-church" in Minneapolis, and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Eighty-six influential evangelists yesterday endorsed an environmental action plan that calls on the Bush administration to impose mandatory limits on the fossil fuel emissions that scientists blame for warmer temperatures.

The initiative marks a rare challenge to President George Bush from one of his most loyal constituencies: his fellow Christians. Mr Bush, a former Texas oil man, has refused to acknowledge the dangers caused by burning fossil fuels, and his administration has repeatedly been accused of stifling scientific evidence on the issue of climate change.

Of course the big names in religious pandering are staying far away from this one. James Dobson and Pat Robertson will continue to support bad policy regardless of the consequences to people of faith or the rest of the world. I’m an atheist and I show more respect for God than either Dobson or Robertson, they are political hacks driven by greed and political ambitions, God is only the vehicle they use to get them to their pot of gold.

Perhaps there is hope yet for the sleepwalking masses and maybe, just maybe, some of them are growing tired of having their God peddled as a Bush crony. This would constitute Karl Rove’s worst nightmare and we should help facilitate any split within the ranks. If some of them are willing to stand up for the Earth now, it may not be long before they are willing to take a stand against mean spirited Conservative driven reverse Robin Hood economic policies and pre-emptive military strikes against sovereign nations that pose no threat to us.

For those who are making a move in our direction, we should throw open the door and welcome them with open arms. Evangelicals are the reason most cited for Bush’s two election wins, split that group down the middle and Republicans lose their foot soldiers and the neo-cons will have to find another bunch of dupes to help them achieve their aims. And as appealing as the neo-cons are to the average working stiff, they will have a hard time filling the Evangelicals’ shoes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dancing For Dollars On A Woman’s Grave

So the crazy loons at Right March are on the warpath again, I really do love being on their mailing list, and this time they are using the name of Terri Schiavo to raise money for Republican candidates.  They even tell me in an email alert, “If we believe Terri should not have been killed by starvation, then we have a duty before God to do something now in her name.  Please, help the RightMarch.com PAC—help support the legislators on “Terri’s List” that tried so hard to save her life.”  Well, if God says I have to give money to Republican political campaigns, then I guess I’ve got no choice.  Jesus these people are sick.

Too bad for the Dems that God is a Republican because he’s a damn good fundraiser.  All the star power in Hollywood can’t compete with the big guy upstairs when it comes to bringing in the dough, have you seen those Mega Churches?  It is beyond cynical to use God in order to raise political funds and it is beyond comprehension why it will work so effectively.  These people are Karl Rove’s wet dream and in addition to extorting their money, he will make sure the Party locals put some red meat on the ballot for them as well.  Anyone who believes that God would prefer that they send donations to Rick Santorum and Tom DeLay rather than their local food bank, might want to reconsider their faith.

Christians who think this kind of pandering and manipulation of faith is disgusting, better start speaking up.  The delusional fundies who will fall for this shit won’t listen to us heathens, so it’s up to those on the inside to show them the light.  Maybe point out that if they spent more time actually reading their Bible and less time listening to preachers and politicians interpret it for them, our county wouldn’t be in such trouble, engaging as we are in unprovoked wars of choice and waging a war on drugs instead of a war on poverty.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pulling Out All The Stops

And so it begins. Last night I saw the first campaign ad for the US Senate race in November and in Washington State, Mike McGavick is running as a moderate Republican who can bring decency back to the other Washington. His commercial was hilarious, he talks about breaking a neighbor’s window with his skateboard and running away until his mom made him knock on the door and take responsibility for it. Great, just what we need in DC, another Republican who will run from his mistakes until someone makes him come clean up the mess. The sad part is, there are plenty of voters who will support this idiot, what with critical thinking in such short supply these days.

So far, Republican plans to hold on to their majority in Congress are going swimmingly. Scooter Libby’s trial has been put off until next year saving the White House and the Republican Party from the spectacle of Big Dick lying on the witness stand. Karl Rove has reigned in Republican members of Congress and strong-armed support for the President’s illegal wiretapping. The MSM has effectively sold the Abramoff mess as a bi-partisan scandal and New Orleans has been swept under the rug (so forgotten is the hurricane ravaged city that the Mayor is now seeking aid from foreign countries). With this kind of great press, I expect that Republicans will not only hold on to their currently held seats, but actually make some gains as well! Remember, they don’t have to actually win they just have to make it seem plausible. Gotta love those machines!

While there have been significant achievements in exposing the hackability of electronic voting machines and vote tabulators, it still looks as if most of us will still be casting our votes on them come November. As hard as activists have been working to get the machines replaced or at least certified to meet state standards, state legislatures have been busy passing new election “reform” laws that make challenging official election results so expensive as to make a recount all but impossible. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. We must be ready to protest the election results in November because all signs point to more fraud ahead. Make your signs and t-shirts now so that you can slap them up and put them on as soon as the suspicious results come in, because they will and hoping against all hope is not an effective strategy.

Does anyone believe that this administration is going to go down without a fight? Are they likely to use all means at their disposal to keep a majority in Congress? Is there any doubt that they know there will be articles of impeachment drawn up if the Democrats take control? What about these people could possibly provide any comfort at all that they will do the right thing? They have shown us over and over again who they are and what they are capable of. Let’s believe our own eyes and use the freedom of speech we still have. The Democrats will lose in November, whether we continue down the road we’re on will be determined not by the election, but by our reaction to it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Fake Hearings In Our Sham Democracy

“Alberto Gonzales, do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is factual and truthful to the best of your knowledge? Oh, never mind, we don’t need to bother with this quaint technicality. Just tell us what you want us to believe and we will dutifully pass it on to our constituents.”

As if AG Gonzales would have any qualms at all in obscuring the truth under oath, the Senate decided to give him a free pass anyway today as Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee block Democratic attempts to put the AG under oath. Republicans aren’t even interested in making the proceedings appear to be legitimate, that is how deeply entrenched their power now is and how blatant their disregard for truth and the law has become. Nothing new really, just another day in the American Empire and one more blow to the façade of our dead democracy.

When they don’t even bother to package the lies, we should all wonder how long before the mask is ripped off and the ugly truth is revealed. We are in the throes of fascism and the Imperial Senate is rapturously writhing in the divine pleasure of total domination in their realm while simultaneously kneeling at the altar of Bush and offering the bloodied and beaten carcass of American society as a sacrifice to him. It’s almost gothic in its self-indulgent grandiosity, grotesque in its implications and nauseating to watch yet virtually impossible to turn away from. We know we should avert our eyes, but we can’t.

Every day I wake up and hope to find my tinfoil hat. I want to be wrong, to be paranoid, to be wildly overreacting, but every day I can’t ignore what I see. King George wants to be the sole authority in determining enemies of the state, use his judgment rather than the law in tracking those enemies, capture them or kill them using his own police force and use his unitary power as the executive to root out dissenters which he can then tag as enemies of the state. Wow, nothing to worry about there. And this is not speculation but rather the stated intentions of the Bush administration. They believe themselves to possess this authority. All that’s left is selling it to Congress (which shouldn’t be hard) and then the public.

Maybe tomorrow when I wake up, instead of looking for my tinfoil hat, I’ll just drink the glass of red liquid that mysteriously appears on my nightstand each day. It smells kinda fruity, almost like Kool Aid, I wonder where it comes from. Best just to drink it and not ask questions, after all, the best things in life are free right? Like Democracy, oh wait, that’s not right. Like justice, no, that’s not it either. Like blind faith, no, there’s a huge price for that too, in fact one half of the country is paying the price for the blind faith of the other half. The Kool Aid may be free if you drink it, but that’s only because someone else is picking up the tab. Since I’m not good at passing the buck, I guess I have no choice but to keep pouring the red liquid down the drain and continue the search for my hat. If you find it, let me know.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Bit Of News For Super Bowl Sunday

I’m getting ready to hunker down and watch the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl ever (oh please, oh please, oh please).  It should be exciting.  So instead of providing any useful commentary on our current slide towards fascism, I’ll just direct you to a few of my favorite articles of the day.

If we thought the fight against deregulation by the FCC allowing for yet more media consolidation was a tough one, this should have us all up in arms.  Corporate America’s next target is the Internet.  The End Of The Internet? By Jeff Chester.

Neil Shakespeare gives us a glimpse into Bush’s plans (or pipe dream) for after he leaves office (the fact that he’s thinking about it should give us little hope that he actually will), include (ironically) a think tank.  What?

More trouble for Scooter Libby and Karl Rove!  It looks as if the CIA was in fact making concerted efforts to conceal Valerie Plame’s identity when she was callously and tactically outed by the Bush regime.

Some great toons collected by Bob Geiger.

And last but not least, with news last week that Bush wants to turn the Secret Service, or SS if you will, into his own private federal police force with jurisdiction wherever he deems necessary, we now find out that he’s mulling over his right to order killings on US soil.  It shouldn’t be shocking, yet it is.  

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Wacky Comments

There is something terribly wrong with the comments feature of my blog right now.  If you have posted a comment in the last few days, they have mysteriously disappeared.  Rest assured that I am not deleting them and when the problem is fixed, I will try to repost them.  Go ahead and leave comments if you feel the urge, I will receive them in an email and then will post them once the glitch is fixed.  Thanks for your patience!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Power To The Sheeple!

I kept meaning to put up a post about Tuesdays SOTU speech, but it was too boring and pitiful to “waste my beautiful mind” on, to quote Mama Bush.  So instead I will devote only a few moments to the only thing that was really new.

In every Bush State of the Union address there is that “What the fuck!” moment.  Last year it was steroids in major league baseball and this year, for me at least, it was Bush’s new war on animal-human hybrids.

Is this really a big problem that I’ve just been missing?  Are we going to have to sit through Congressional hearings on the topic, like last years spectacle of MLB players ratting each other out and denying all at the same time?  If so, I hope they bring in some psychiatrists and analysts that can explain the sheeple that came to the polls to support Bush not once, but twice.

If there are scientists working diligently on human-animal hybrids, I hope they make their first order of business giving these idiots a body to match their addled brains.  At least that way we can see them coming and throw down banana peels to slow their stampede to the polls and oil slicks to speed their progress over the cliff.  Now there’s a project worth throwing money at!

The Glacial Movement Of The Democratic Party

I was digging through some old writings and found this piece that I wrote before I started my blog.  It is sad to me that a year after I wrote it, it is as relevant as it was then.  I am posting it in the hope that we will all see that doing nothing about the state of our country and ignoring the fact that we have no, that’s right NO, real representation in government will only speed along our demise as a free, open and working Republic.  I don’t want to write this same letter over and over again until it becomes against federal law to write it at all.  So here it is, an angry rant from a poor little girl turned middle-class mom who hadn’t yet found an outlet for her fears or an audience that could console her.  Well, our country may not be better off, but I know that I am, thanks in large part to you.

An Open Letter To Our Senators

I am not a radical, tin foil hat wearing conspiracy nut.  I am simply a middle-class stay at home mom, but my concerns about the direction our country is taking and our lack of national leadership, are not simple nor are they easily alleviated.  

I am having a hard time deciding if our leaders are weak or just unaware of the extraordinary problems facing our country.  Do you know that we have a voting system controlled by private companies?  Do you know that we have almost used up half of the world’s oil supply and more importantly do you know what will happen when we reach that tipping point?  Do you know that privately contracted professional soldiers are killing reporters in Iraq who attempt to report the real story?  Do you know that the U.S. is kidnapping people and torturing them in foreign countries?  Do you know that American citizens are being held in jail for years without trials?  Do you know that a component of jet fuel is now found in virtually every woman’s breast milk?  If you don’t, shame on you.  If you do, how do you justify doing nothing about it?

I am tired of hearing excuses from my leaders.  I want some action.  If you, as a U.S. Senator, cannot address these problems, then what use are you to us, the people who elected you to look after our interests?  Is keeping your job more important than serving the people?  My hope is that Democrats in the House and Senate will become Democrats again.  This is not a time to be pandering to an electorate that will never support you.  Evangelicals are not going to vote for you and that’s okay.  We are never going to be the Party of God and that’s okay too.  You were elected because we thought you could lead.  If that is no longer the case then it’s time to pack up and head home.  You certainly didn’t become a US Senator by being a shrinking violet so let’s see some spine.  

It is time for all of you to step out of your insulated bubbles filled with aides who tell you what you want to hear, and start listening to yourselves.  You need to stop watching television news and thinking that you are informed.  Your base is deserting you and you seem to have no idea.  You may think you can replace us with those moderate Republicans in the heartland but really you’re just fooling yourselves.  No one prefers polyester to silk.  It’s just cheaper!

Now is not the time for Congressional hearings on steroid use in baseball, nor is the time to pass legislation intervening in the legal battle of one family in Florida.  This is not a time for weakness or shrinking from our convictions.  It is time to stop playing by the opponent’s rules and make some of our own.  It is time to fight for and win the hearts and minds of the American people.  Staying in office while dumping your beliefs on the side of the road is not acceptable.  If you keep your job by not rocking the boat, what happens when the boat tips over anyway?  You are still wet in the water, but those of us who would have been inclined to help you, will not be rushing to your side to pull you out.  Chances are we will have drowned ourselves by then.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

KnowBuddy Could Have Predicted…Why Didn’t They Listen?

I have been hearing about KnowBuddy since the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and the Bush administration continues to this day to cite all of the things she could have predicted, but what is still unclear is why they weren’t listening then and why they still won’t listen to KnowBuddy now.

Condoleezza Rice was first out of the box, while the WTC towers were still smoldering, she went on television and told us that KnowBuddy could have predicted that terrorists would use airplanes as missiles.  At the time I thought she was saying that it was beyond the scope of everyone’s imagination that such an event could occur, but I recently caught up with KnowBuddy and she has shed some light on her fight to be heard by the Bush administration and her frustration at the media who continue to get it wrong.

KnowBuddy has been working in the White House since Bush’s first day in office.  She is a slight woman of five feet one who sports a pantsuit and a tight bun for our meeting. “While I admire Condi’s penchant for more sexy attire,” she explains, “I prefer to blend in and just do my job.”  As we sit chatting, I can tell that she would rather cut to the chase and get to the point of our meeting, so I ask her about her job, which turns out to be all the encouragement she needs.  She gives the impression that in this White House, KnowBuddy’s in charge.

“It’s true, I could have predicted 9/11 and in fact I did, but I was not alone,” KnowBuddy tells me as we sit in her local coffee shop a few blocks from her home.  “When Clinton left office he warned us that terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden, would be the biggest threat Bush would have to deal with during his term.  And Richard Clark continued to bang his head up against a resistant administration who had other plans in the works.”  The frustration she feels is palpable.  “There were many others who spent more time than I trying to convince the Bush administration that the threat was real.  Anyone who tried to get the message through was dismissed as a Chicken Little, fretting over nothing.”

What I found most amazing about KnowBuddy is her determination.  It doesn’t matter how many times they hang up on her or shut her out of meetings, she still continues to share her knowledge in the hopes that one of these days, they will listen before hand rather than simply giving her credit after the fact.  “When Donald Rumsfeld stood up at a press briefing and told the world that KnowBuddy could have predicted that there would be an insurgency in Iraq, I was stunned at the admission and waited for the press to call.  But days passed and I realized that the press had missed it again.”  KnowBuddy understands why the press is so easily duped, but she still can’t help but think that eventually some reporter will ask the right question that will lead them to her door.

She made headlines again when President Bush said after Hurricane Katrina that KnowBuddy could have predicted the levees would be breached.  “I may have gotten credit for the prediction, well, I would have if they had spelled my name correctly,” she says with a laugh, “but FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana state government as well as local government in New Orleans had all been shouting at the top of their lungs that this was going to happen.  When the President decided to quote me instead of the myriad of others, I finally realized that he was using me on purpose.  Because my name would easily be misprinted in the papers and misunderstood by the viewing audience, I was enabling the Bush administration to tell the truth factually, without telling the truth at all.”  She hopes that by coming forward now, she will be able to expose the incompetence that is running rampant in the Bush White House,  “They really won’t listen to anyone outside the inner circle, even when we have been proven right, over and over again.”

KnowBuddy is a patriot in this administration, and while taking to her, I got the sense that KnowBuddy really cares.  She continues to share her knowledge in hopes of making government work better.  KnowBuddy knows why the press is so willing to take Bush at his word, “he has misrepresented the facts, but they just don’t have the time to do a proper job when so much disinformation comes out of this administration in a constant stream.”  While for the most part, this administration has been able to keep a lid on dissenting opinions, KnowBuddy is willing to buck the system and speak out.  KnowBuddy wants the American people to hear the truth and KnowBuddy is willing to come forward, whatever the consequences, and tell it like it is.