Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Death Follows Cheney While Destruction Follows Bush

Dick Cheney’s visit to Afghanistan was met with a suicide bomber sent by the Taliban to the main gate of the American base there. Thank goodness the Vice President wasn’t hurt in the blast, but unfortunately 23 others lost their lives and 20 more were wounded. It seems no one is safe around Mr. Cheney, whether it be his friends who risk getting shot in the face or strangers who happen to find themselves in the Vice President’s vicinity when the rage he’s inspired in others comes to a head. No one is safe as long as this man remains in power.

The attack on the US base in Afghanistan highlights the growing violence and danger in that country. When we broke our promise to the Afghani people and abandoned them for the ill fated folly of attacking Iraq, we left a power vacuum that has allowed the Taliban to re-emerge as a powerful force and that has also resulted in a stronger and more virulent al Qaeda network in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Too bad General Schoomaker doesn’t think capturing Bin Laden is all that important, but that’s been the clear message out of this administration almost from the very beginning. The American people may think that bin Laden and al Qaeda are the targets of the “war on terror”, but not so the Bush administration. Iraq and now Iran are the targets and we, the American people, are the victims of this rogue administration’s crazy theories about how the world should work.

While the administration is being warned (yet again) that al Qaeda poses a serious threat to US security, the policies implemented by the Bush administration only further the agenda of al Qaeda and drive more and more people toward radical Islam (and radical Christianity and radical Zionism) at the same time they help silence more moderate voices. The clash of civilizations that Bush loves to talk about seems to be his goal to create. Conflicts are resolved by meeting in the middle, negotiating with an honest desire for resolution and by parties smart enough to understand the situation and the consequences of failure. It should come as no surprise then that this President is leading us further and further into chaos, creating more and more problems and conflicts that we may never be able to untangle once he’s gone. Ask a simple man to do a complicated job and you end up with a mess.

Our simple President is busy denying any plans to attack Iran (just like he denied his plans to attack Iraq) but who could possibly believe him? Conventional wisdom is being spewed by a myriad of "reporters" that goes something like, "Bush isn't crazy enough to attack Iran. It simply can't be done, it must be posturing." I don't know what in the last six years has given them that impression, but the fact that Generals are coming forward to say that they will quit in protest if the Bush administration does launch an attack on Iran should tell us that those in the know find Bush's craziness, if not probable, at least plausible. That should scare the hell out of all of us.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Want To See Some Teeth And I Want To See Them Bared!

I haven’t given Joe Biden much thought as a real potential Democratic Presidential candidate, but if he can successfully lead the way in ending the war in Iraq, he may just emerge as the real winner. Biden has been pushing a re-authorization of the war, in effect repealing the President’s current war authority and replacing it much more narrow objectives. Getting this through the Senate won’t be easy, especially when they can’t even pass a non-binding resolution to declare an escalation of the war “a bad idea”, but Biden can be a pretty smooth talker when his foot isn’t lodged firmly in his mouth.

I really thought that the Democrats were onto something with the idea of putting restrictions on the money being spent on the war, but it appears that “fear” has yet again deterred the Democrats from doing anything substantive to rein in this administration. The last election was a big winner for the Dems, but if they fail to act and continue to react to what they fear the Republicans will throw at them, it may prove to be the last election they ever win. We need some strong leaders willing to act. I hope the Democrats don’t leave that to the Republicans yet again, that’s how we got here in the first place.

Tying the money to troop readiness is a great idea and leaves the Republicans who vote against “funding with accountability” open to the charge of not really supporting the men and women who fight. The Democrats have got to learn to play the political game to win because even in the majority, they’re getting beat!

Stop sniping at each other and start aiming at the opposition for God's sake. If the Democrats can become as deft at throwing political hardballs at the Republicans as they are at out pandering each other, they could just make some serious progress toward bringing our troops home. Hope springs eternal, right?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The (Useless) Information Age

Television “news” is virtually dead at this point. When one must watch hours of MSNBC or CNN to get any information about the current state of our “conflict” with Iran while simultaneously being bombarded 24/7 with pictures of Brittney Spears’ bald head and the growing line of Anna Nicole Smith’s wannabe baby daddies, I think it’s safe to say that on television, the information age consists solely of useless information. If only print news were any better.

With The New York Times continuing to peddle Bush administration talking points, providing front page placement for nothing more than White House propaganda and “analysis” of intelligence information on Iran that is never analyzed after it leaves the Vice President’s desk, I’m getting the sense that war with Iran is as unavoidable as was war with Iraq. Not because events are driving our two countries toward an inevitable confrontation, but because the Bush/Cheney war machine continues to be fuelled by a compliant (culpable) press. Thank goodness for the Internet.

But while many of us are turning to online news sources for information and alternative analysis of unfolding events, there are still many people in this country who don’t, but there is a beacon of hope. As television “news” becomes more and more indistinguishable from Entertainment Tonight, a few of our traditionally soft news and entertainment magazines are stepping up to the plate to fill the void (a trend I wrote about in the first months of my blog, albeit a bit sarcastically).

Last year, Rolling Stone published a great piece on the fraud ridden 2004 Presidential Election that provided hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to read information that had been, up to that point, confined to the Internet. And now, it is GQ (yes, the men’s magazine) that has stepped up to offer what our newspapers should, a clear and concise case for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. I’m not one of the many that cite “President Cheney” as a reason for not impeaching George W., but impeaching them both is by far the best idea, even if we start with Cheney.

As I've written many times before, impeachment isn't an option so much as an obligation. We have a President and a Vice President that have both committed high crimes, violated the laws of our land AND our constitution, and it is our duty to impeach them. We cannot allow our executive branch to lie to Congress and to the American people. We cannot allow them to break our laws with no consequences. We cannot allow them to abuse their power, imprison American citizens and deny them their constitutional rights, violate international law with illegal wars, authorize torture in violation of Geneva Conventions and violate our privacy with illegal wiretapping. These are impeachable offenses. We have a duty to uphold the rule of law and we must make clear to future elected leaders that criminal behavior will not be tolerated. If we don't, we will get more of the same. It really is as simple as that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

If You Thought The Smash And Grab Was Waning…Think Again!

Arthur Ruger over at Willapa View has a great post up about vulture capitalists and their economic terrorism of third world countries. That the wealthy and unscrupulous are preying on poor nations isn't a surprise, but what should be (but sadly isn't) is that our President refuses to do anything about it. Buth then again, why would he? These are, after all, his friends we're talking about and we all know that SOBs (Sycophants of Bush) will be protected by this administration, no matter the cost to the rest of the world. Go read Arthur's post and be prepared to get hoppin' mad.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Well Tread And Bogus Path To War

We’ve been marched down this same path before and the rhetoric is eerily and unimaginably, similar. Perhaps it’s just that this administration is a one trick pony, but more likely is that they’re just sticking with what works. They ginned up intelligence, preyed on public fears and perpetrated an all out media blitz to gain support for attacking Iraq. Sure, all of their lies have since been exposed and their plans have proven utterly disastrous, but that isn’t stopping them from using the same tactics against Iran. The Bush administration cares little about how the public (and certainly Democrats in Congress) feels about their actions, so long as the action takes place, and why shouldn’t they proceed that way? It’s not as if there have been any consequences for being caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

“Anyone who leaked classified information will no longer work in this White House.” Remember that doozy? Last time I checked (this morning), Dick Cheney is still Vice President and Karl Rove is still Bush’s political advisor. Sure, Scooter Libby resigned to defend himself against criminal charges of perjury and Ari Fleischer and Richard Armitage have retired (at least for now), but none of these men were fired for their part in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA operative, an operative working on tracking weapons of mass destruction and nuclear materials to and from Iran. As the drum beat for military action against Iran gets louder and louder, the connections between Valerie Plame and the case against Iran are starting to come into focus.

I’ve been hearing a lot of policy analysts, pundits and public officials claim that the Bush administration isn’t crazy enough to start a war with Iran. I’d like to know what in the last six years has given them that impression. Was it their preemptive invasion of Iraq? Was it the fact that they did no post-war planning, believed we’d be greeted as liberators and thought the war would pay for itself? Or maybe it was their insistence on labeling Iran, North Korea and Iraq the “axis of evil” at a time when we enjoyed unprecedented support and goodwill from those countries AND when we needed them most? I can’t help but think that anyone who isn’t terrified of waking up to headlines that this administration has started bombing Tehran, isn’t paying attention. If we can look back and see that we were sold a bill of goods on Iraq, we should be able to recognize the same slick (or not so slick) sales pitch this time around. What Bush “knows” about Iran is the same as what he “knew” about Iraq. Nothing.

Political retribution is a possible motive for the outing of Valerie Plame, but so too is the fact that she was in a position to build a case against Iran and wasn’t finding enough of what the White House wanted. If the Bush administration is as intent on attacking Iran as they were Iraq, Valerie Plame could have been a problem for them. If there’s no “there” there to find, best to get rid of the person who can prove it, and better yet, replace her with someone willing to create the “there” out of thin air.

What this administration doesn’t know could fill the new and improved Superdome, but what they claim to know (and don’t) is what concerns me. Just as they “knew” where the WMD were in Iraq, they “know” that Iran is supplying weapons and training to insurgents in Iraq (and how can they, at the same time, not know that Saudi Arabia is funding the Sunni insurgents?). Flimsy and invented intelligence is what they used to back up the former and exactly what they have so far presented for the latter. Few in Congress were willing to challenge the fraudulent case for invading Iraq when it was being put together. Please let them, not only recognize their failure, but atone for it, by not ignoring the signs this time around.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

“I’m Not Touching You”

By Man of American Dissent

I read this article earlier and the first thought that came to mind was that somehow the US was behind it. If I recall correctly, the vast majority of "insurgent" car bombers go down with the ship rather than ride away on motorbikes seconds before their explosives detonate. I have the distinct sense that a certain "element of instability" is trying to instigate a conflict with Iran.

It reminds me of games siblings play. Imagine two kids lying down at the opposite ends of a sofa engaged in playful, but competitive foot wrestling. The game goes on for awhile until one of them slips and the other gets kicked in the crotch. Then it's on. Kicks and fists go flying with head butts and the occasional bite soon to follow. Kids will do something similar on long driving trips. One will repeatedly touch the other until a fight (nearly) breaks out. Once a grownup has intervened, the toucher will then proceed to taunt the "touchee" by repeating the statement "I'm not touching you" in an effort to escalate the situation and provoke the other child.

My message to the children engaged in this very dangerous game is this. Do not make me stop this car. Stop touching/not touching, foot wrestilng and fake fighting now. Do not escalate. Use your words and work this out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Can’t Believe It’s Already Time To Talk About ‘08

There will be light blogging around here for the next few weeks while I attend to projects that have been long neglected on the domestic front. Thanks to global warming, I can add clipping back all my plants and flowers to the list since many are already starting to bloom. Spring seems to come earlier and earlier each year, kind of like the race for the Presidency every four years.

I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that the race for the Democratic nomination has already begun, but that is getting harder and harder to do. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be President, but I’m even more perplexed as to why anyone would jump in so early and add almost a years worth of scrutiny and attacks to an already long and grueling campaign. I’m just glad there are at least a few people out there crazy enough to want this job.

Last week I wrote about the blogger controversy over at the Edwards’ campaign and some took that as an indication that I’m pushing an Edwards ticket. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m still looking, and there’s a lot I still need to know before I jump on anyone’s bandwagon. The only thing I know for sure right now is that it would take a lot for me to become okay with Hillary Clinton. I don’t think there’s enough I don’t know about Hillary for me to change my mind about her at this point. I don’t trust her, it’s as simple as that. I honestly believe that triangulation politics have weakened the Democratic Party and have resulted in the marginalizing of the left for far too long. Hillary Clinton appears to be following in her husband’s footsteps and triangulating for her political life, and I want none of it.

I appreciate that John Edwards is at least attempting to engage the country in a discussion about poverty and the growing disparity of wealth, but I still have some serious problems with his culpability in the Iraq debacle. Saying his vote was a mistake is great, but anyone who voted to authorize this war has shown that they have serious problems when it comes to judgment. While I like that he’s shining a spotlight on poverty at a time when poverty is America’s dirty little secret, I’m not convinced that John Edwards is the right leader for our critical times.

Barack Obama is simply captivating. He’s got a great personal story, he’s good-looking, charismatic and he’s capturing the imaginations of Americans searching for a new start. He’s young, he’s bright and he seems to be giving it to us straight. If his lack of experience is the one big mark against him, his authenticity and good judgment on the war are his two greatest strengths. Like Jesse Jackson said, “all of my heart leans toward Barack.” I’m just waiting for more details for my brain before I follow my heart that has lead me astray far too many times in the past.

The big question is still, will Al Gore jump into the race? It certainly seems as if his campaign is in full swing, albeit in a completely different way. If Gore decides to run for President, he doesn’t need to jump in early since he’ll land in the front of the pack as soon as he announces, whenever that is. And talk about the perfect leader for our times! The last six years have been nothing, if not proof of what a terrible mistake we’ve made. All of the damage that has been caused by Bush can be repaired by Gore. It would give the American people a chance for a do-over. Most Americans wish the Bush presidency were simply over already. Electing Gore could make it seem as if it never even happened. I’m not saying that that’s a healthy impulse, but hey, we’re not exactly the picture of health these days. We need someone who can hit the ground running, who has credibility on the world stage and who understands how government works. The last six years have been wasted when it comes to global warming, energy independence and peace in the Middle East. We need rapid movement on all of these fronts and Gore is already an experienced driver, pointed in the right direction.

Gore/Obama! Now that's a ticket I could get behind.

Win One For The Gipper

Guest Post by Man of American Dissent

The writing is on the wall. Faced with a rock solid case presented by Patrick Fitzgerald, it seems almost certain that Scooter Libby is going to "Take One For The Team." It's no different than what happens with organized crime figures. In order to benefit the organization, folks just have to do the time when their number is up. Sure, they mount a defense and claim innocence, but that's all for show. Just think about it for a moment. What innocent person in their right mind waives their right to defend themselves in a criminal trial? The truth of the matter is that for their loyalty and sacrifice of doing time in silence, these guys get rewarded on the back end. Does anyone honestly believe that George W. Bush will not pardon Scooter Libby? It may not happen until December 2008, but it will happen.

By taking the hit now, Scooter is saving all of their asses. Bush, Cheney, Rove...the whole gang. When Scooter gets his orange jumpsuit and goes off to a minimum security Federal Facility, it will not be the last time we hear from him. Have no fear. He will be back. Just like John Poindexter and Elliot Abrams.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Story of the Three Little Wolves

A guest post by Mark W. Bradley

(Chapter One - "A New Dope")

Once upon a time in the Kantseatha Forest, there lived three hungry little wolves who set out to seek their fortunes. Their names were Dickie, Rover and Scooter.

Upon departing their respective dens of origin, the first challenge facing each of these ambitious little wolves was, of course, the task of building for himself a sunlight-proof shelter, each according to his eccentric appetite and innate ability to hide his true nature and underlying motives, even from himself.

Scooter Wolf, for instance, arranged for his house to be fabricated out of toxic mold-infested straw (although he seems not to have been entirely aware of this fact until it was revealed to him months later by his sometimes friend, Little Russ the Raccoon). Truth be told, Scooter could not exactly recall when (or even if) he'd been formally notified that his house was being built out of bales of moldy straw. On the contrary, he was pretty sure he'd been given categorical assurances by his friend, developer Dickie Wolf, that Dickie's construction company, Hellaporkin, was using a "state of the art" building material described as "steel-reinforced modules of highly compacted cellulose fiber aggregate", which, according to the color brochure, boasted an insulation factor in excess of R-19, and was guaranteed to be every bit as safe as an electric diaper.

Unbeknownst to Scooter Wolf, his friend Rover had also recruited Dickie Wolf and Hellaporkin to build his dream house. For this project, Dickie the Developer recruited a lodge of unlicensed, non-union beavers to built Rover a house made entirely out of twigs, or as they were described in the promotional video, "a rare and exotic collection of all-natural, chemical-free, rustic lumber stock, harvested under rigid guidelines consistent with the principles of environmental sustainability."

Surprisingly, when at last it came time for Dickie Wolf to construct a domestic dwelling of his own, he opted not to use the Hellaporkin Construction Company. Instead, he made an offer on an already existing, virtually impregnable 9,000 square-foot brick fortress originally constructed by a porcine acquaintance of Dickie’s he’d met in an earlier fairy tale. Unfortunately, while the transaction was pending in escrow, this very same fortress sustained extensive water damage in the catastrophic failure of an upstream beaver dam built years before by (guess who) Hellaporkin. The odd thing about the collapse was that the dam had just gotten a “thumbs up” from Dickie’s good friends at the Aardvark Corps of Engineers.

An even odder thing was that although the deceased owner - referred to in newspaper accounts simply as “Mr. L. Pigg III” - was presumed to have drowned in his living room during the ensuing flood, the complete lack of water in Mr. Pigg’s lungs initially cast some doubt on this section of the coroner’s report. This apparent discrepancy was later resolved, however, as the revised coroner’s report determined that the water that had originally saturated Mr. Pigg’s respiratory system had most likely drained out of his lungs through the hundred or so birdshot-sized holes in his back.

In due course, the badly damaged brick building was condemned, and declared forfeit under an arcane provision of the Law of Eminent Domain. Fortunately, Dickie Wolf was able to acquire the property for the affordable price of $1, as he turned out to be the sole bidder at a hastily arranged government auction conducted at an undisclosed location. Miraculously, this undisclosed location happened to be the very same undisclosed location where Dickie was holed-up at the time.

Dickie Wolf loved his new home. Built entirely out of high-density fire-proof bricks and reinforced with an estimated 32 miles of steel rebar, it contained an underground bunker roomy enough to accommodate up to fourteen guests/detainees. More importantly, the entire structure was sheathed in a 2" thick lining of sheet lead, a precaution against radiation leaks eminating from the plutonium-powered dual-purpose air pump and water purifier. Settling in comfortably, it wasn’t long before Dickie Wolf had stocked the place with items from his lupine survival kit: 150 packages of "flamin' hot” pork rinds, twelve cases of "Grey Goose" Vodka, two durable sets of industrial-strength defibrillator paddles, a salt lick, four tanks of Nitrous Oxide, and a 100% virgin wool sheep costume (XXL).

One day, Dickie Wolf and his friend Scooter were playing Dickie's favorite game, Extreme Risk, which involved a game board of the world, 2 trillion dollars in monopoly money, and a plastic box full of tokens, some of which showed a picture of a smiling wolf - dressed in bonnet and bifocals borrowed from someone's kindly grandmother - above the words Protectorate of Dickie Wolf. The rest of the tokens showed the words Property of Everybody Else under pictures of variously decorated baskets of goodies.

Dickie had no sooner arranged the game pieces on the board and filled his pockets with as much monopoly money as they would hold, than he began to feel despondent.

"What's wrong?" asked Scooter.

"It's not fair," grumbled Dickie. "This game reminds me that there are still a lot of animals in the forest who don't have the good sense to let me handle their affairs. It's almost as if they don't trust me..." He seemed genuinely hurt by this realization.

"Cheer up," said Scooter, unintentionally drooling wolf-slobber all over the game board. "There's nothing wrong with your furry face that a little prosthetic dentistry couldn't fix. In the mean time, what you need is a fig leaf."

"What's that?" asked Dickie, his wolf ears perking up.

"You know, a cover,” replied Scooter. “Someone amiable and non-threatening to act as a front for your enterprise.”

“Maybe you’re right,” uttered Dickie Wolf. “In fact, I’m going to find one right now...”

Dickie hadn’t traveled very far when he came across a fig tree growing in a swamp off to the right of the path. Actually, it was more of a stunted bush. The fruit on the bush looked scrumptious, so Dickie picked one and eagerly plopped it into his richly salivating mouth. It tasted like dog shit. Dickie began to barf all over himself.

He had convulsed himself well into the dry heaves when suddenly he heard a tiny little inarticulate voice that seemed to rise up from the ground. Dickie looked all around, but all he could see was an insignificant little fig leaf lying at the base of the bush.

“Howdy,” squeaked the leaf, “my name is Potus. Potus the Fig Leaf. What’s yours?”

“They call me Dickie Wolf,” sneered Dickie. “Say, how did you manage to get detached from that revolting fig tree, anyway?”

“The other leaves voted me off,” said Potus, sadly. “Said I was a drain on the root system. Wait a minute, did you just say your name was Wolf? I have a new friend with the same last name! Rover Wolf, he calls himself. He’s promised to make me a very powerful leaf and get me the respect I so richly deserve. Maybe you know him...”

Just then, Rover himself emerged from behind the obnoxious fig tree.

“Hello, Dickie. Long time, no see,” chuckled Rover with a drooling drawl.

“Hello, you mangy pile of overstuffed dog flesh,” said Dickie, good naturedly. “Your friend Potus here was just telling me how you’re going to make him a star. Perhaps you’d care to elaborate...”

“My pleasure, Mutton-Breath,” sneered Rover. “Actually, I’m the one who gave him the name Potus. His family always referred to him as Mr. Chlorophyll-deficient. Frankly, as far as fig leaves go, he has the mental capacity of, well, a fig leaf.”

“Makes sense,” offered Dickie, thoughtfully. “Thing is, I happen to be in the market for a fig leaf, and the less inquisitive it is, the better. Any chance we could collaborate on this kid’s political career?”

“Anything’s possible, for the right price,” hinted Rover Wolf.

“Is this enough?” asked Dickie, as he reached into one of his pockets and dumped a crumpled wad of monopoly money on the ground.

“Looks like we got ourselves a deal,” said Rover, with a toothy smile.

“Hurray,” shouted the fig leaf. "Does this mean I'm finally gonna get to be the King of the Forest?”

“That's what it means, kid,” chortled Dickie, as he chewed lustily on a gnarly strip of squirrel jerky. “We're gonna make you the biggest friggin' fig leaf of all.”

And so, with the help of Scooter, Rover and Dickie - the Three Little Wolves - Potus, the Nearly Inanimate Object, became the undisputed king of all he surveyed...

(Say, kids, don't forget to watch for Chapter Two - "The Three Little Wolves meet Wolf Blitzer”!)

Mark W. Bradley is a history teacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at markwbradley@comcast.net

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Right Wing’s Attempt To Swiftboat Bloggers Fails

Ever since Senator Russ Feingold made his definitive decision not to run for President in ’08, I’ve been uninspired to join the debate over who should be the Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton leaves me cold, Barack Obama, while new and exciting, so far seems a little too much like the same old Clinton era, free trade, big business Democrat for a lefty like me. Senator “MBNA” Biden is a non-starter, Bill Richardson is still holding on to the DLC way and Al Gore refuses to enter the race. That leaves John Edwards, who talks a good game AND has just backed it up with some action.

My best friend called me yesterday, all upset and angry about the whole brouhaha surrounding the possible firing of Amanda Marcotte (of Pandagon) and Melissa McEwan (of Shakespeare’s Sister) from the Edwards campaign. My friend is a loyal reader of Pandagon and was incensed at reports that Edwards had caved to right-wing pressure (over nothing) and fired these two bloggers. If Edwards will cave to the right-wing smear machine over nothing, why should we trust that he’d stand firm when it comes to the big issues?

But John Edwards didn’t cave! He did the right thing and kept the bloggers on, proving that he truly respects free speech, understands that swiftboat attacks cannot be allowed to work and that taking the short view is not enough to gather the support necessary to win an election. Those of us that write and read blogs are not interested in the short view, we are looking to make fundamental changes in the way voters interact with our government, elected officials, campaigns and with candidates. We want our voices heard and we want to steer the debate and possibly even affect policy, and yes, sometimes we’re quite passionate about the issues and we often use strong language to express our views. Does that make us unqualified to participate in campaigns?

Blogs provide unfiltered opinion from the bottom rather than polished opinion from the top, and that is exactly why blog readership is up, while newspaper readership is down. I couldn’t be happier that John Edwards recognizes and respects the value in people powered politics, but even though he made the right choice there is still something to learn here and John Edwards should ask himself why it became so important to right-wing bloggers that Marcotte and McEwan be fired.

Sure, it could be old-fashioned jealousy, but my bet is on fear. Bush “won” two elections because voters were attracted to his “authenticity” however manufactured it was. John Kerry lost (as would Hillary Clinton I fear) because of his lack of authenticity. The American people are tired of the slick politician, they want someone real, someone that will speak their mind, show some spine, and stick to their principles, even when they’re not popular. John Edwards must be authentic and he must act in a manner consistent with his views if he is to have a shot at the Presidency. Without the fundraising ability of Clinton or the star quality of Obama, Edwards will need a groundswell of support from ordinary people, and blogs are a great place to start in building that swell.

If John Edwards had wanted squeaky clean political consultants (as if there is such a thing), he would have hired some, but he didn't. He wanted to reach the people through blogging, and he hired two of the best to help get his message out. By standing with them when they were swiftboated by the Right, he's shown us that he is authentic and he's shown the Right-wingers that swiftboat attacks won't work on John Edwards. Nice job Senator.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I Love It!

Kudos To Gay Rights Activists

Last year, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled on a case involving gay marriage and asserted that the state can ban same sex marriage because the state has a vested interest in preserving marriage for the purposes of procreation. What a crock of shit!

In response to this ruling, initiative 957 was born. I-957 will require all married couples to file a “proof of procreation” within three years of the marriage. If the Supreme Court of Washington says marriage is for procreation, then that ruling has to apply across the board. I absolutely love this initiative, can’t wait to sign it and hope I get a chance to vote on it! If it takes an insane initiative to hammer home the pointlessness of excluding same sex couples from the institution of marriage, then by all means do it. Some people need to be hit over the head with their own hypocrisy before it sinks in, and vigilance is the most effective means of change.

I watched the Super Bowl last Sunday and I saw the Snickers commercial where the two men, eating from opposite sides of the candy bar, meet in the middle in a kiss, after which they proceed to rip out their chest hair (and other “manly” behavior) to prove their manhood. I thought the commercial was funny, not because of the kiss, but because the men were portrayed as ridiculous. I was a bit surprised by the uproar that arose from gay activists after the ad aired. My first reaction was, “lighten up”, but upon further reflection, I realized that they are exactly right to make a fuss and I was completely wrong in not seeing the problem instantly.

Disgust and violence, even when directed inwards, should never be portrayed as the appropriate response to homosexual behavior. That’s an incredibly dangerous message, whether subliminal or overt, especially considering that hate crimes against gays and lesbians are still prevalent. But perhaps even more importantly, analyzing and labeling this commercial as homophobic, moves the debate forward and challenges, very publicly, the fallacy that two men kissing is anything less than manly.

The ad has been pulled, a sign that we’re making progress on the issue, progress that has only been made due to the vigilance of gay rights activists, and I thank each and every one of them for that. As a parent, I want my children to grow up in a world that is not only tolerant of differences, but understanding and accepting of those differences. It is easy for heterosexuals to forget that those fighting for gay rights are fighting for us as well. Many of us will have gay children, and if our children are able to grow up unafraid of violent reactions to their sexual desires, proud of who they are and free enough to express their inner most feelings, we will have the gay and lesbian activists of today to thank.

So thank you to all who fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians. Thank you for moving this debate out of the closet and onto the pages of our newspapers. Thank you for your vigilance, thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for all of your hard work in making this country a better and safer place for all of our children.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

All Together Now

If the Democrats were the worst, least successful minority Party in history over the last 12 years, the Republicans have just shown that they’re determined to be the best.

The Democrats refused to filibuster a nominee to the Supreme Court that will cause our country to take a hard right (fascist) turn for the next several decades, and even more disgusting, they refused to filibuster a bill that wiped out our right of habeas corpus, but the Republicans have just successfully filibustered a NON BINDING RESOLUTION, simply because it would embarrass their President.

I'm hoping (probably against hope) that this last election changed who the Democrats are. One thing's for sure, it did nothing to alter the GOP. They will vote Party lines and circle the wagons to protect one of their own, same as it ever was. The Democrats must realize that there is no compromise when it comes to the war. Bush has made his stand, his men have fallen in line and the escalation goes forward, WITHOUT DEBATE. The question remains, what are they going to do about it? The people voted, now it's time to act.

Modern American Republican Christianity Confounds Me

Those of us that look to logic, data and facts to explain the world around us, sometimes have a hard time understanding the rules of religion. I understand and mostly follow the teachings of the Bible, not because they are the words of God (that, as the VP would say, is hogwash) but because treating others as I would myself, generally seems like a good idea. I don’t need “God” to tell me that. It’s not the Bible that I find confusing, but rather the modern rules of Christianity as currently practiced by many Christians in this country.

I suppose it would be more accurate to describe them as Republican Christians because in many parts of this country, and certainly in the media, church has merged with the GOP. It may be a vocal minority of right-wing religious nutjobs (James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly, the list seems endless), but there’s no denying that the most high profile Christian “leaders” have chosen to call the GOP home and in return, the influential fascists (George Bush, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, another disturbingly long list) have laid claim to Christianity. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The politicos frame their agenda as a religious crusade and the preachers turn their churches into campaign offices. The losers in this deal are the rest of us, including the true believers.

If this relationship weren’t so dangerous, it would be funny, if for nothing else than the confounded logic employed to explain away the bad behavior of politically minded Christian leaders. Take for example, this story in the news today. According to modern American Republican Christianity, as practiced by the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals Ted Haggard, putting your dick in the mouth of a male prostitute doesn’t make you gay. I guess that means God still loves good old Ted.

But Ted, what if you stick your dick in your wife’s mouth while pretending she’s a male prostitute? Is that okay? God knows your thoughts right? Or is it simply that you can engage in gay sex or fantasize about gay sex while engaging in heterosexual sex as long as you feel ashamed by your thoughts and behavior afterward? Surely God wants His followers to hide who they are, have plummeting self-esteem and feel shame for simply being human. Probably just as much as He wants political dogma preached in His house.

What we take away from any book has a lot to do with who we are when we read it. I guess the Bible isn’t special in that regard.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Democratic Tone Deafness Cured

For the first time in a long time I’m starting to like the tone in Washington DC. One of the most persistent complaints about the Democrats since the Supreme Court installed George Bush as President has been their lack of opposition to the Bush agenda, courage of conviction and the spine to stand up for themselves, let alone the American people. What a difference an election can make.

Although I’d like to see the Democrats cut Georgie off at the knees and cut funding for this disastrous invasion, turned occupation, turned civil war, I do see that they are at least moving in the right direction. Chastising the President for his plans to escalate the war with a non-binding resolution is a start on that front, but the investigations into the selling of the war better lead to stronger action. With 58% of the American people simply wishing that the Bush Presidency was over, I’d say it’s time for the Democrats to give the people what they want and start moving toward impeachment. Not only is history crying out for justice (no President has ever deserved it more), but impeachment may be the only way to stop this reckless administration from attacking Iran, a move that would bring catastrophic consequences that, surprise, surprise, the ideologues in the White House are completely oblivious to yet again.

On the domestic front, I’m hearing snippets that suggest a Democratic Party going back to its roots. John Edwards is talking about poverty, Jim Webb is talking about the disparity of wealth and even Hillary Clinton is suggesting that the public has a right to some of the grotesque profits being made by the oil companies. She may be taking heat from the right-wing noise machine for even suggesting such a thing, but those of us not blinded by greed can see that she’s absolutely right. The middle-class has been paying more than its fair share while American corporations have been getting a free ride. As much as the possibility of “striking it rich” is part of the American dream, so too is the opportunity (mandatory though it may have to be) to give back and invest in the country that provided you your wealth. Republican rule has brought the rise of greed (as it always does, the opulent 80’s under Reagan comes immediately to mind) and the plummeting of responsibility.

Take, take, take may work for the few at the top, but the pleasure is temporary. It creates an unstable economy, but even more importantly, it erodes the moral foundation of society. Thomas Jefferson wrote in Notes On The State Of Virginia that the real danger inherent in slavery is the moral corruption of the master that results from one man owning another. I take issue with the importance he gave to this particular aspect of slavery, but the idea is a solid one and can easily be applied to our current situation where the gap between the rich and the poor is widening at an alarming rate. Something has to be done and I’m glad to hear Democrats at least starting to address this issue.

We have some very serious problems that must be addressed in this country, not least among them the very real danger of global warming. While the American Enterprise Institute offers money to anyone willing to pass out blinders by debunking the UN’s report on climate change, the rest of us better get serious about solving the problem. American industry (and obviously American over-consumption) has disproportionately contributed to the problem. Now they must be made to cough up the money to help fix it, and that starts with reinstituting some fairness in the tax code. It’s fine to start with going after the tax cheats, but it must end with a tax structure that forces responsibility, and limits the opportunity for excessive greed.

The changing tone in DC is encouraging, but action is what will really impress.