Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Middle Of Washington DC Is Not The Middle Of The Country

I’ll give the Republican Party some credit, they may not know how to govern, but they sure as hell know how to hoodwink the media and the Democrats in DC into believing that their radical notions are “mainstream”.

The Democrats now control Congress and 63% of the American people want to see them bring an end to the occupation of Iraq and yet the winner in the standoff over continuing to fund the occupation is won by the discredited neo-cons led by a President with a 28% approval rating! And we wonder why more people don’t vote.

Sure, cutting off funding for the Iraq occupation is risky, but it’s not insurmountable. The risk is that the White House will beat Democrats over the head with the “you don’t support the troops” stick, but who cares? Aren’t they doing that anyway? And who the hell still believes the Bush administration on anything, especially the war?!

What the Democrats don’t seem to understand is that the American people are behind them. 63% of Americans want a timetable for withdrawal, exactly what the Democrats were attempting to do with the last funding bill that the President vetoed. 63% of the country isn’t the “anti-war base of the Democratic Party” no matter how many times Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman and the rest of the yak-heads say it. We are not a fringe group, that’s a term better applied to the 20 percenters still supporting this President and his disastrous war.

The problem is that the Democrats have bought into the rules of engagement that the Republicans set up while they were in power. We’re begging you, please, wake up! In case you missed it, you’re in power now, you get to make the rules, and for Christ’s sake, stop believing that you need Republican votes to win! You don’t. What you do need is to hold onto moderate Democrats and you need to sway Independents to win elections, but guess what? You’ve done that. You don’t have to convince voters that you’re on the on right side of this issue, you’re the only ones confused on this point.

Understand that the only people still supporting this war are 75% of Republicans! The moderates and Independents have already joined you so quit acting like the underdog! We’re all standing here, in the Middle, using our binoculars to see you, but you’re still a spot on the horizon to our right. Accept that you’ve been duped by the right wing fringe and start walking (sprinting) left toward the center. You are our Representatives and we’re waiting for you to represent us. All the distant yelling is coming from the middle, you’re just having a hard time hearing us from all the way over there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Better Late Than Never

Now that Republicans are starting to regain consciousness, I’ve been hearing statements like, “George Bush isn’t a conservative” and “these guys aren’t Republicans” and while these sentiments may be true, it doesn’t change the fact THAT CONSERVATIVES SUPPORTED “HIM” AND “THESE GUYS” UNTIL, LIKE...YESTERDAY!!!!

If Republican voters, and so called “life long Republican” politicians can be so easily manipulated by a bunch of whack-nut thugs, well, that doesn’t speak well of them and it’s all the more reason for reasonable people to vote for Democrats, hell Liberal and Progressive Democrats for far into the future. Just because the Republican Party has a penchant for authoritarianism and likes a “strong leader” (a term that adequately describes both Hitler and Mussolini), doesn’t mean the majority of Americans do. In fact, I think having a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican in the White House has repelled even those that have only a slight attraction to authoritarianism.

Authoritarian personalities will do as much as they can get away with. They will use all of the agencies in their control for political gain, they will use every lever of power to gain more, and they will down right steal from the till if given unfettered, uncontrolled, unchecked opportunity to lift that money, and will do so right out in the open. Despite the fact that liberals and progressives have been screaming about the corruption for years, it will take conservatives to actually make a difference. And believe me, if they want to take on the monumental task of reclaiming their Party from the thugs and common criminals (although I doubt they’ll take on the fundamentalist religious whack-nuts) that control it now, I couldn’t support them more in that effort, but that still doesn’t mean I trust their judgment. Simply stated, it shouldn’t have taken them this long to figure it out.

The so-called “real conservatives” can try to mitigate the damage to their Party at this point, but they cannot erase their part in facilitating it. George W. Bush by any other name is one of them all the same. Conservatives supported this President every step along the way and while those of us on the left knew that Republican voters were being hoodwinked, when we tried to warn them, they didn’t listen and instead called us moonbats for trying. If the damage this administration has caused was limited to the Republican Party instead of infecting our entire republic and the world, we could take some joy in saying “We told you so.” As we sit teetering on the edge, it’s the most hallow of victories.

So what if we’ve learned our lesson and are ready to throw the bums out? How will that change the way we address the larger issues? It has been a joke of history that at the exact moment we are facing several global crisis requiring immediate attention and action, we have been saddled with Republicans who hate government, running all three branches. Republican rhetoric and their constant peddling of fear have so debased our political discourse that most Americans are left unaware of the real problems on our doorstep and instead are bombarded 24/7 with “issues” like immigration, terrorism, war, abortion and gay marriage.

We have been sold a story about “terrorism” being the number one crisis we face in the 21st Century, when in fact that is nothing more than a convenient cover for perpetual war (and the profits to be made off it) and an economy based on debt that enriches those at the very top while reducing the rest of us to nothing more than indentured servants. Our country has accrued a staggering debt, but so too have American workers. We don’t own anything anymore, not even own our future, that belongs to the mortgage company that owns our house, the credit card company that owns everything in it and the bankers that make even more money off of our future debt. When most of the money is being siphoned off the top, We The People are left with nothing more than the guarantee of more debt and more work to pay it off. Shouldn’t we at least attempt to find a better way?

And what about Global Warming? We have two years left of the Bush administration and most scientists agree that we are rapidly approaching the point of no return. A global climate crisis is not a matter of if, but rather of when, and once the effects become readily apparent, it will be too late to reverse the process without heavy losses, of life, property and security. As we watch the Republican Party collapse and the Bush administration marginalized, we must keep in mind that they are still making the important decisions that will affect our future. They are still denying Global Warming, they are still refusing to take even small steps toward solving the problem (or at this point, mitigating the damage) and they still believe firmly in the Bush Doctrine that claims the right to the rest of the worlds resources, acquisition of which is accomplished through lies told to the American people about immediate threats to our national security.

While I understand that impeachment may not be politically expedient and that it could put a halt to the other important work that must be done, it comes down to a simple reality. We cannot afford to wait this President out. Two years is a long time and the damage this President can still do, could make his past disasters look minor by comparison. He’s destroyed several countries and an American city, what if he’s just getting started? We must use the constitutional remedies available to us and strip him of his power. The good news is, our conservative friends are slowly beginning to come to this realization as well. Better late than never.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Conservatism Has Failed

Watching the Republican debate last week really highlighted the fact that conservatism is dead. Not so much in the sense that no one believes in it anymore (those 20 percenters are still hangin’ on), but that it has been discredited to the point that very few are willing to give it another chance.

How can you remain a Republican if you believe in smaller government, little or no foreign engagement (to the point of isolationism) and freedom from government intervention in private affairs? The truth is, you can’t, at least not if you want to retain any kind of intellectual honesty. And as much as I’d love to lay blame at the feet of the Bush administration, this one is not entirely their fault.

Conservative ideology has been given a chance, and it has run its course, to the detriment of the country and possibly to the near permanent hobbling of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the rest of us were forced to suffer the injuries inflicted by its running its course straight into a brick wall, but the wounds will heal, and so will our nation.

The Right Wing think tanks, the Republican controlled Congress and the Bush administration, together implemented the conservative agenda, virtually unmolested by the Democrats, and here we are. It’s not quite the Utopia they thought it would be and while incompetence played a supporting role, the real failure belongs to the brains of the operation, and we all know that wasn’t George W. Bush. Iraq would still be a disaster even if it had been handled properly. The disparity in wealth we are currently experiencing is by design and the infeasibility of a financial structure based on debt is the legacy of conservatism in practice. There’s a reason the neo-cons have left the building, failure is the orphan these conservatives have no compassion for.

Think of the great experiments in liberalism, Social Security, Medicare, the Environmental Protection Agency, the five day work week, child labor laws (the list is a long one), all still going and despite conservative intervention (attempt to destroy them) over the years, all still working relatively well considering. On the other side you have experiments in conservatism, trickle down economics, perpetual war to feed the military industrial complex, the unitary executive that says the President is above the law and should be above the law in times of crisis (of their own making), all have failed and all are costing the average American time, money, security and peace of mind.

After six unfettered years of conservative rule, we work harder for less, with little or no security or opportunity to claim even a small piece of the American dream. We worry about our health because we have no healthcare, we worry about our food because it’s not properly regulated and we worry about our future because there is no security in working a job anymore. We worry about our children because a good education is harder and harder to come by and we worry about our parents because they don’t have security in retirement. This is what conservatism has wrought (rot?) and why an overwhelming majority of Americans say we are on the wrong track. Sure, the current crop of Republicans will attempt to eek out enough votes by pandering to religious fundamentalists and preying upon the fears they’ve instilled in voters of “the others” be they Mexican immigrants, Muslims or gays, but ultimately they will lose because there simply aren’t enough simple minded people that haven’t been clued into the fact that the words Republicans utter are simply words without meaning, and while words may be cheap, the actions, policies and experiments in conservatism that we have seen implemented, speak volumes. We can hear you now, we just don’t want what your sellin’ anymore.

We don’t want to live in a country where obscene wealth is accrued on the backs of hard working people that can’t afford to educate their children. We don’t want to live in a country where government serves only the top 1%, that celebrates war and shuns diplomacy and that cedes its moral authority by condoning and implementing torture. We don’t want to live in a country where leaders tell us we must give up our rights while they flagrantly violate the law. In short, we don’t want to live in a conservative Petri dish. If Iraq was the clean slate on which to write the conservative dream, I think we’ve seen enough to determine, conclusively, that we are not now, nor are we interested in becoming, a conservative country. We need to get back to our liberal roots, that is what will feed our future.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Old White Guys On Parade

One of the negative side effects of being a political junkie is the overriding desire to watch a Republican debate that I know ahead of time will make my blood boil and cause me to swear in front of my children. Oh well, I’m somewhat calmed down now, 14 hours later.

Just looking at the stage last night, filled to overflowing with middle-aged white men, the difference between the Democratic debate and the Republican debate couldn’t have been clearer. There is no diversity in the Republican Party, and listening to them try to position themselves as the most regressive, most narrow-minded, and at times, most ridiculous, it’s not hard to understand why.

The most inane question asked and answered was, “Do you believe in evolution?” Are you kidding me? Not surprisingly, many of them said no and John McCain, who said yes, had to qualify his answer with, “but when I hike the Grand Canyon, I see the hand of God.” Puh-lease! I can’t believe that we are effectively limited to two Parties in this country, and that one of them caters to the cavemen among us, it would be hilarious if it weren’t so frightening.

The answer that made me scream the loudest came from Rudi Giuliani. While he was defending President Bush’s record on “the war on terra”, Giuliani went on and on about how important it is to be on the offensive and to make the rest of the world, Iran especially, fear us. That answer was to be expected, but what caught me off guard was his reference to Reagan, “When they looked into the eyes of Ronald Reagan, 5 minutes later, they let the hostages go.” That’s an amazing selective memory you have Rudy! We now know that the hostages were let go on Reagan’s Inauguration Day because there was a deal brokered ahead of time to sell them weapons if they did. I’m sure if President Carter had been willing to break the law in order to retain power, he could have, but that’s only a well tread road on the Republican side of the aisle. Bastards!

Besides the fact that I couldn’t be tempted to vote for any one of these knuckleheads if there were lots of money and a date with George Clooney in the offering, last night, these men looked like old, tired, worn down America. Be afraid, give us authoritarian power and we will protect you and bring back the good old days, before enlightenment, before democracy and before science. According to the Republican Party, all we need is God and a strong “leader” to lead the way. The only problem is, God is a myth and we live in a Representative Democracy. We don’t elect leaders, we elect representatives and I hope it becomes obvious to most Americans that the current field of Republican presidential candidates represent the past and will only hurt our future prospects. There are plenty of middle-aged white guys on the Democratic side too, far too many for my taste, but at least they’re not regressive middle-aged white guys.

A perfect example is John Edwards, who has taken the ballsy step of scrubbing the term “war on terror” from his lexicon and his web site. It’s about time the Democrats dismissed this frame instead of trying to fit into it! There is no war on terror, only a manufactured “long war” that provides opportunity for the military industrial complex and cover for the further erosion of our constitutional rights and freedoms. Voting for a Republican, any Republican, will mean more of the same, and as a country, we simply can’t afford it. Don’t be afraid of terrorism (then the terrorists win), there are logical ways to deal with terrorism that don’t involve bombing and invading sovereign nations thereby increasing anti-Americanism around the world. Instead, be afraid of marching toward the future with a President who had his back toward it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It’s Getting Hot In Here

I’ve been a bit worried lately that I’ve fallen victim to the Rovian plan of inspiring apathy in progressive voters. I’ve been angry and attentive for so long to every ill-advised policy decision, every illegal action, every incompetent incident, every attempt to usurp power not granted to the Executive branch as well as the reverberations that have spread throughout our social and political structure as a result, but the Bush administration has wore me down. Sustaining outrage is difficult when they continue to top themselves at every turn. I feel like the good German, realizing what’s happening around me yet feeling powerless to stop it. The erosion of our freedoms has been steady, but it has also been incremental, leaving far too many of my countrymen acting like frogs in a slowly heating pot of water. Content until it’s too late. I’m feeling pretty drowsy myself.

The scope of the damage this administration has inflicted is sometimes hard to comprehend. We are given bits and pieces but rarely are we able to step back and view it all as a whole. The Republican disdain for government at a time when they have controlled it completely, has made us less safe in so many ways, but while we tend to hear a lot about the instability created in the Middle East, the rise of terrorism, radicalism and violence that can be directly linked to Bush administration foreign policy, less attention is given to the direct dangers that this administration’s domestic policies have had on our personal well being.

Take for example our food supply. The FDA is tasked with protecting our health by making sure that the drugs we are prescribed are safe and effective and that the food we eat is safe for consumption. While the FDA has been a less than ideal and continually under-funded agency throughout it’s history, during the Bush administration it has been decimated and it’s mandate completely changed. No longer is the FDA’s prime responsibility to protect citizens from unscrupulous agribusiness and pharmaceutical companies looking to make a buck at the expense of public health, but rather the FDA currently acts as an agent for those unscrupulous businesses, turning a blind eye and helping them get around regulations thereby increasing their profits, public health be damned.

Our pets being poisoned by purposefully tainted food has been a big story, but the buried one (check out David Goldstein’s great post on the topic) is that human food is being purposefully tainted too, and not by some whackjob secretly adding poison for the sick thrill of it, but rather by food manufacturers adding melamine to their products in an effort to game the system and make more money on their “high protein” products. If we eat animals, what those animals eat matters to our health. Our pets are dying from eating this food. How long before our children (one small step up on the food chain) start dying too?

And how about public education? Have you heard anyone with a child in public school say, “Wow, that No Child Left Behind program has really improved our school! My child is getting the best education possible thanks to George W. Bush”? No, me neither.

One of the most basic functions of government is to educate the country’s children and we are failing at that in the most dramatic fashion. An education, let alone a good education, is fast becoming a privilege only the wealthy can enjoy. This is not because public education is inherently inferior to a private education, in fact studies have shown just the opposite, but it is because this Republican administration and the former Republican Congress, have such disdain for public institutions and have made it their goal to destroy any and all public programs that serve all the people, regardless of income or class. Government programs that serve the least amongst us are the first target of Republican ire, but a close second are those that serve the entire population, namely Public Education, Social Security and Medicare. They’ve made a dent (hell they’ve banged them up) in two of the three over the last six years and that last one is still on the short hit list for the next two years. The only thing saving us at this point is that the Republican Party is led by a bumbling, scandal mired, failing war president with a 30% approval rating. Thank goodness for small mercies eh?