Thursday, October 25, 2007

The World's Most Exclusive Kennel Club Presents: The 2007 “Bark, Rollover and Play Dead” Competition

Guest Post by Mark W. Bradley

“Live, from the WSJ Editorial-lined lobby of the Bob Ney Convention Center here in Washington D.C., conveniently located within easy dog-walking distance of the National Fire Hydrant (formerly known as 'The United States Capitol Building’), the World’s Most Exclusive Kennel Club presents: The 2007 'Bark, Rollover, and Play Dead' Competition.

“This Canine Sports Spectacular Presentation is brought to you this evening by AIPAC-brand 'Kibitz and Blitz', the official dog food of the Lakud Party and the United States Government. Like all AIPAC-brand products, 'Kibitz and Blitz' is made from 100% genuine negotiating table scraps ‘too good to waste on Palestinians.’ Every 'bunker-busting' bite is chock-full of bellicose goodness, guaranteed to make your saber-rattling, subservient solon sit up on his hind quarters and shamelessly beg for another heaping helping. And 'Kibitz and Blitz' now comes in two pooch-pleasing flavors: Rump Republican Red Meat Chunks (in the shiny crimson can featuring Mitch 'Mad Dog' McConnell gnawing on a half-eaten Persian kitty), and Lukewarm Liberal Lymph Node Pate (look for the grainy, black-and-white surveillance photo of Harry 'Hangdog' Reid furtively squatting in a doggie diaper). But no matter which flavor your Senator prefers, when you feed him 'Kibitz and Blitz', you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing he'll never again be tempted to tip over and rummage through your garbage can (unless, of course, his trainers at the NSA order him to sniff-out and retrieve your carelessly discarded cell phone bill). So do yourself a favor, and pick up a corporate contribution-size bag of 'Kibitz and Blitz.' After all, we're not just providing food for Straussian thought here, we’re feeding 'AIPAC' of dogs. And now, here’s your FOX-news anchor, Frank Mutz.”

“Hello, and welcome. I’m pollster Frank Mutz and I’ll be bringing you all the leg-humping excitement here at the Bob Ney Convention Center. I’m pleased to be joined tonight by the Democratic Party's chief leash-yanker and butt-sniffer, Rahm Emasculator...”

“Great to be here, Frank. This year’s top contenders will be vying for the coveted Triple Crown of Congressional Canines, the prestigious ‘Bark, Rollover and Play Dead’ triathlon. Many of these constitutionally-challenged curs have been in training for this event since their ‘hind tit sucking’ days back in the Doghouse of Representatives. I think it’s safe to say that quite a few of them are literally chasing their own tails, hoping to make a favorable impression on their owners here tonight. But before the actual competition gets underway, let’s get to know some of these Furry Federalist Fleabags, shall we? For that we send you down to everyone’s favorite newspuppy, Nora O’Doggerel, who’s been panting patiently around on the Soiled Carpet to present us with a special segment she calls ‘Up-close and Doggerel.’ Nora?”

“Thanks, Rahm. I’m here with two former Congressional dog trainers, Neuter Gingrich and Tom DeSpay. Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us.”

“Thanks for having us, Nora.”

“Mr. DeSpay, let’s get your thoughts first. What’s going to be the key to victory in this competition?”

“Well, Nora, what makes this event so unique is that it requires an extraordinary array of rare talents. Take the barking competition, for example. Any dog can bark, but it takes years of practice for a dog to learn to bark out of both sides of his mouth and still keep from dropping his chew stick. In that regard, Senator Arlen ‘Fetch’ Specter has a distinct advantage. He’s a rare breed - a Wire-haired Water Retriever - and he’s been the Republican Party’s designated barker on the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly 200 dog years. His bark is among the best in the business - ferocious, indignant, convincing. And that’s precisely what makes it such a great setup for his spontaneous rollover. It’s so spontaneous, you don’t even see it coming! One minute he’s growling away for hours at some Attorney General nominee or other on your TV set, so you get up to grab another bag of chicken bones and when you return, ‘presto’, his confirmation vote has been recorded and he’s down on all fours licking his bowl clean like nothing happened...”

“Tom’s definitely got a point there, Nora. Senator Specter’s bark-to-rollover time may be the quickest in the history of the sport. The problem is, he’s pulled it off so many times, I’m afraid he’s starting to lose the element of surprise. That’s why I’m gonna have to go with Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat “Trick Dog” Leahy on this one. Whereas Specter’s strength is his speed, Senator Leahy relies on a subtle combination of strident sincerity and quiet capitulation. His Herculean pronouncements (like the one threatening to hold up the Mukasey nomination), invariably lead to Lilliputian results. Like most purebred Hibernian Horehounds, his pugnacious growl belies a docile and compliant nature, which makes him the perfect watchdog to guard a booby-trapped room.”

“Gentlemen, you’ve identified two of the alpha males among the contenders. But who do you see as the alpha females in this competition? Neut?”

“Clearly the most formidable challenger is Hillary ‘Pharm Dog’ Clinton. Being a golden lab retriever (Pfizer Labs, Wyeth Labs, Amgen Labs), Hillary has a leg-up on the competition, so to speak. First of all, her bark is (strictly speaking) not a bark at all, but more akin to the blood-curdling howl of a hyena. Her bite, on the other hand, is quite harmless, especially when deployed against her erstwhile ‘enemies’ in the ranks of the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy.’ In fact, she appears to have mastered the difficult art of snargling (snarling and wagging her tail and the same time). But her rollover is truly a thing of beauty. More a slow-motion pirouette than a rollover per se, it occurs over a span of time tending toward the geologic, and is as subtly incremental as the blooming of a corpse flower.”

“Neut, pardon the expression, but I’m afraid ‘that dog won’t hunt.’ The ‘bitch’ to watch here (and I mean that with all due respect) is the Italian Lapdog Nancy ‘Nolo Contendere’ Pelosi. From 2001 to 2007 she howled, yelped, and barked incessantly about the crimes of the Bush Administration, but now that she finds herself in a position to do something about them, she’s become one mute mutt. I mean, her discipline is truly remarkable. Her one and only weakness is that she has a habit of passing directly from ‘barking’ to ‘playing dead’ without even a passing glance at a ‘rollover.’ One suspects she may be frozen in the supine position.”

“Which reminds me, gentlemen, you two have been uncharacteristically mute when it comes to making predictions about the ‘play dead’ phase of the competition.”

“Nora, I believe my colleague Neut will readily agree with me that Senator John ‘O’ Possum’ Kerry has a pit bull’s mandibular lock on that category. Not to say he is a pit-bull. In fact, I have no idea what he is, and I’m not sure he does either. While many professional breeders who’ve seen Kerry's papers report him to be a purebred Standard Poodle, others contend he is nothing but a well-coiffed dingo. Rumors abound that Kerry is actually a ‘Heinz 57’, but I find this notion preposterous. Only sustained inbreeding could have produced a dog so utterly useless for any purpose beyond inducing sleep in himself and others. He is the very nonpareil of ‘playing dead’”

“I’ll grant you that, Tom, but since his bark is indecipherable and his rollover appears to be as continuous as an electric spit, I question whether his ability to ‘play dead’ will be sufficient to allow him to catch the competition. Besides, ‘dead dogs’ are a dime a dozen. The real question is: can he come back to life?”

“That’s an excellent question, Mr. Gingrich. What do you think, Tom?”

“I suppose what Neut is referring to here is what we in the ‘dog eat dog’ political world call ‘canine resurrection’ (and we’re not talking about ‘doggie heaven’ here). Let me give you three examples of this phenomenon. First, there’s the story of Trent ‘Cracker Barrel’ Lott, a rare White-hooded Bloodhound once named ‘Dog of the Year’ by the Kaucasian Kennel Klub. Need I say more? And then of course we have the strange case of Senator David ‘Bird Dog’ Vitter, who is, I believe, a cross between a Ponchartrainian Poontang Pointer and a Bayou Beaver Retriever. (This hybrid, if left to its own devices, prefers to make its home in out-of-the-way cat houses.) ‘Nuff said about that, I suppose...”

“Excuse me Nora, but Tom failed to mention the most remarkable story of ‘canine resurrection’ on record, that being the case of Senator Larry ‘Dancing Paws’ Craig, the Snake River Canyon Cockapoo. Now the Snake River Canyon Cockapoo isn’t considered much of a breeding dog, as it is suffers from a congenital olfactory malformation that renders it unable to detect the smell of canine estrogen. It does, however, make a useful pet in many South Asian countries, where it is more aggressive than a mongoose at hunting wild snakes in a confined space. But what makes Larry ‘Dancing Paws’ Craig truly remarkable (even for a Snake River Canyon Cockapoo) is his extraordinary homing powers. No matter how far from home he gets dumped by his owners (and he has been dumped several times) Larry always manages to find his way back safely to the Senate Cloakroom...”

“Thank you, Neut, for that heartwarming story. Well, folks, we’ll be back in a moment to bring you more exciting coverage of the ‘Bark, Rollover, and Play Dead’ competition. But first a word about AIPAC-brand ‘Porkless Pork-Barrel Treats.’ They’re kosher, and they’re guaranteed to keep your Doghouse Member comin’ back for more! Most important of all, ‘Porkless Pork-Barrel Treats’ help keep your House pet in the peak of health by promoting strong teeth and gums (or, in the case of a Democratic House pet, just his gums). That’s AIPAC-brand, for Congressional canines who answer to a higher authority...”

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tom Friedman Puts On Dark Glasses and Discovers the Sun

Guest post by Mark W. Bradley

Given the hectic pace of life these days, I suppose it should come as no surprise that we Americans are inexorably loosing our ability to think for ourselves. Social critics have long sought a definitive explanation for this phenomenon, but have so far failed to come up with anything beyond a working hypothesis. The prevailing arguments tend to fall into one of three basic categories. They are:

a.) Americans are too busy to make sense of the complex geopolitical realities of the modern world;

b.) Americans are too stupid to make sense of the complex geopolitical realities of the modern world; or

c.) Americans are too stupid to know they are too stupid to make sense of the complex geopolitical realities of the modern world.

Being the sort of person who would rather spread the darkness than curse a candle, I have come up with what I believe is a novel antidote to this debilitating condition. I call it the "Designated Thinker" solution.

This ambitious plan calls for each of us to adopt a really, really super-smart celebrity journalist/columnist of our choice to do the heavy mental lifting for us. (I like to pick mine from the Brahman stables at the New York Times, but hey, to each his own.) In my case, I rely on the prophetic and erudite visionary Thomas L. Friedman to pre-digest the steady stream of unpronounceable Arabic names and crazy-quilt geography coming out of the Middle East, and present it to me in an easy-to-comprehend format along the lines of Schoolhouse Rock. You know, something like:

America's the greatest, and there isn't any doubt,
But our choo-choos won't be chuggin' if the oil runs out!
Our little Shia brothers are just dyin' to lend a hand,
But if the Sunis don't agree, we're gonna gobble up their land

But you get the idea. So let the ditto heads leech off the limbic system of Mr. Limbaugh; I'll take "Tom Terrific" of the Times any day. Now when somebody questions me about events in Iraq or Iran (or any of those irrational Muslamistic countries) I always answer with, "Well, Thomas Friedman believes that (fill in the blank)”, and boy are they impressed! But you know, the most satisfying part of this symbiotic relationship is that I get to feel like a real intellectual heavy-weight (without having to engage in any of the time-consuming bother of processing all that information myself), while Tom gets to flog enough copies of his books to comfortably cradle a nest egg the size of Qatar.

Imagine my delight, then, when I happened to catch my surrogate cerebrum on the cable news networks the other night. Apparently, he had called an impromptu news conference to announce his startling discovery of a gigantic flaming gas-ball in outer space that seemed to be orbiting our disk-shaped planet. Friedman first noticed this star-like object (which he has taken the liberty of naming "the Sun"), when the intense luminosity emanating from the incendiary sphere temporarily blinded him, causing him to fall clean out of the saddle of the Tactical Nuclear Cruise Missile on which he was riding, Major Cong-style, toward Damascus. When asked by reporters to identify the likely origin of this gaseous body, Mr. Friedman would only say that all would be revealed to us in over-simplified form in his upcoming best-seller, The Sun is Fat, and So is My Head.

This latest (and perhaps most profound) revelation to issue forth from the pen of my erstwhile muse comes on the heels of two other monumentally important discoveries made by Friedman earlier this year.

The first of these was his heroic (and ultimately successful) effort to pinpoint the precise location of his own derriere. As he described this defining moment in an NYT exclusive, “My head had become irretrievably lodged in a dark and malodorous place, but when I instinctively reached ahead of me with both hands, I was able to grasp my elusive posterior with surprising ease. Curiously enough, it had been right in front of my face the entire time! Who knew?...”

Friedman’s other recent journalistic coup, of course, was his scooping of the entire Western World last August with the breaking news that the invasion of Iraq was not such a good idea, after all.

Man, I wish I’d gotten an Oxford education! All I could wangle was Chico State...

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

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fun Facts About Invertebrates

Guest Post by Mark W. Bradley

My ten-year-old granddaughter looked up from her science homework the other day and posed me a question she thought would be a real stumper.

"Grampa, what's the world's largest invertebrate life form?"

"That would be the Democratic Party," I replied. "Why do you ask?"

"Because my science book says it's the ‘giant squid.’ They can weigh up to 600 pounds."

Upon hearing this stupefying factoid, I was forced to concede.

"Then I guess your science book is probably correct, sweetheart. Even loaded down with frozen blocks of corporate campaign cash, most Democrats don't weigh that much!"

"I'll bet the Democratic Party is smarter than a giant squid, though," she offered, graciously allowing me to salvage some semblance of academic face.

"I suppose it would depend on the squid," I posited. “That, and the number of Democrats present at the time of the comparison.”

Well, Grampa, what if there were a lot of Democrats, and they were all meeting in Congress, making a really good plan to get us out of Iraq? Who would be smarter then?”

“Definitely the giant squid,” I quipped with confidence. “You see, honey, believe it or not, the more Democratic Congressmen there are in a room, the greater the likelihood the entire quorum will be outwitted by a single marine mollusk, not to mention a reasonably alert jellyfish. Take the Senate Majority for instance...”

But before I could get into my stride, my granddaughter again shifted gears.

“But Grampa, at least Democrats are brave, right? I mean, they have more guts than a squid, don't they?”

“Well technically, sweetheart, we know a squid has guts, because we can see inside it. Squid are transparent, you see, and that’s one thing you could never say about Congressional Democrats. Oh sure, they all claim to have “intestinal” fortitude and the “stomach” for a fight when they’re on the campaign trail, but once they get voted into office they line up to be gutted like nihilistic sardines fighting to get into the can. And once Democratic politicians are eviscerated, they leave behind whatever vestige of moral courage they once possessed as thoughtlessly as a lobster sheds his carapace. They quake in terror at the mere mention of imaginary sea monsters lurking in the Strait of Hormuz, and spend most of their time groveling on bended-fin before a barnacle encrusted, not-very-lifelike cement statue of “King Neptune the Invincible”, something 71% of the other fish find laughable, if not utterly baffling. It’s the damndest thing...”

Still my intrepid granddaughter was undeterred in her valiant attempt to find a place for Congressional Democrats at the apex of the invertebrate food chain.

“There’s just one thing I don’t understand, Grampa. If big old slimy bottom-feeding squid monsters are so much braver, smarter and more powerful than Democrats, then how come one of them doesn’t run for the Senate?”

“One already has, sweetheart,” I replied. “Isn’t there a picture of Joe Liebermann in your science book?”

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

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why Can’t They All Just Get Along?

Guest post by, Mark W. Bradley

Four years ago (shortly after moving into the neighborhood where I currently live), it was brought to my attention that a thoroughly unpleasant individual resided in the house across the street and two doors down from mine. Not only was he known to be crude and obnoxious in his personal habits, it was widely rumored that he routinely and mercilessly beat his three sons. These reports disturbed me, to say the least, so one day I plucked up the courage to go down to his place and tell him, in no uncertain terms, that he had better straighten up and fly right. He didn't, so I shot him.

Now I’m one of those people naive enough to believe that performing an act of kindness like this for three newly-liberated orphans would be enough to earn me their undying gratitude, but such was not the case. In fact, they seemed curiously mistrustful of me after that.

I suppose their reaction was understandable under the circumstances, and I must admit that I did feel a little responsible for the death of their father (I had killed him, after all). But as I told the children myself (once they'd calmed down a bit),"Look, are we going to continue to dwell on the past and spend a lot of unproductive time discussing 'how we got to this point', or are we going to sit down together like men and figure out how to move forward on this thing?" Before long, the boys (who, at that point, ranged in age from eleven down to six) took one look at the smoking gun in my hand and decided to take a fresh look at the facts as they then existed on the ground.

The truth is that once the rental truck finished hauling away all the unnecessary clutter that had sprung up during the unspeakable reign of their despotic father (including a completely outdated plasma TV, a Land Rover with dangerously under-inflated tires, a broken-down pallet of rat-infested gold bullion, and a frightfully miscataloged collection of post-impressionist paintings), the poor kids finally had enough room to run around the house without tripping over hazardous piles of stuff every time they turned around. And since I didn’t see anybody else volunteering to do it, I agreed to store the whole god-awful mess at my house, at least until the boys were old enough to have adult grandchildren capable of looking after it in a responsible way.

Anyway, like I said, it’s been four years since their father’s untimely demise, and even now I don’t feel I can trust them to act responsibly unless I’m personally there to keep an eye on them. For one thing, every time I go out to get them another bag of food pellets at the pet store, they reach through the steel bars on the windows like idiots and try to pick the padlock on the outside of the front door. Even worse, all I have to do is forget to feed them for a while, and within a week or so they start fighting amongst themselves. I just wish they’d learn to take responsibility for their own behavior, so I wouldn’t have to. After all, I only got involved in all this because I thought I could help out. The last thing I wanted was an “open-ended” commitment, for God’s sake.

As it happened, a few months ago, I finally settled on a new approach. I told the boys I’d be “willing to stand down as soon as they were ready to stand up.” They asked me what I meant, so I told them, “Look guys, it’s simple; If you can prove to me your willingness to pool your available resources and share them with each other in an equitable way, I’ll turn the house back over to you, and you can enjoy the boundless fruits of democracy.”

The good new is, they’ve all agreed in principle to the conditions of my offer. Make no mistake - it’s an important first step, yet difficult challenges lie ahead that will continue to test my resolve. Recently I presented the young men with a draft of changes they must agree to as a prerequisite to earning their full measure of personal sovereignty. These proposed rule changes I refer to collectively as the “Methane Resources Production and Sock Sharing Bill.” Here’s how it works:

Between them, the three boys own one-and-a-half pairs of socks. This means that if they simply stop their endless bickering and divvy up the socks evenly, they’ll find themselves in possession of one full sock each, which is more than sufficient to provide warmth and protection for one of their feet during the frigid winter months ahead.

And that, essentially, is all there is to it.

Yet (for reasons perhaps known best to them), the parties concerned seem unwilling or unable to agree to these simple terms. After months of contentious wrangling over various alternative methods of sharing out the three socks (each of which favors one of the boys at the expense of the other two) they have reached a virtual impasse. Given this unfortunate development, I can only hope that everyone involved will eventually discover in a comprehensive solution a satisfactory means of meeting his particular needs.

But whatever the obstacles that lie in my way, I cannot afford to abandon my efforts, as the well-being of these impressionable young people must continue to be my paramount concern, now, and for the foreseeable future. Failure is not an option...

Author’s note: In the past few days, some irresponsible persons have been posting flyers around the neighborhood accusing me of enriching myself at the expense of the young men under my protection. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that I should (at my own expense, I suppose) double the number of socks available, thus providing all three of them with an entire “pair” of socks. Needless to say, anyone familiar with the less well-publicized provisions of the agreement knows full well that such a profligate waste of cloth footwear is rendered utterly superfluous by Section 914B of the proposed agreement, which unambiguously stipulates that “each party to the said contract (insofar as he is designated a ward of the aforementioned ad hoc guardian) shall, as a show of good faith, undertake (at a time and place agreed upon by said guardian) to amputate his own right leg above the knee with a bacterially-infected oyster knife...”

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

Monday, August 13, 2007

Even Karl Rove Has Given Up On Saving Bush’s Legacy

I heard the news late last night that Karl Rove will be resigning at the end of this month, but rather than being happy about the Roving Pig’s departure, all I could think was, “how is it possible that this slimeball will walk out of the White House on his own terms rather than being led out in handcuffs?” The scum really does rise to the top.

For all of the damage that Rove has wrought on the political process, the good news is that his dirty style of politics has, in the end, hurt his team more than the others. The Republicans are left with a bad brand that no one wants to touch, they’re like Depends Undergarments, they may be useful, but you sure as hell don’t want anyone to see you with them and it’s a last resort after everything else has failed.

Although there is lingering resentment for the way this White House has corrupted Washington, our government and the political process, Rove’s departure is a reminder that the end is near. If there was anything possible left to accomplish, Rove would surely stay, but this lame duck president is bankrupt of political capital, his own Party despises him for what he’s done to their future prospects and his time left in office is dwindling. I’ve given up on the hope that he will be impeached (although not impeaching him is a huge mistake for the long term stability of our current form of government), but I’m finally able to imagine a time beyond Bush.

I’m comfortable with the legacy that will plague the Bush name in the history books and even though Karl Rove will get away with the crimes he’s perpetrated on this country, it’s comforting to know that even he has given up trying to polish the turd he once thought was his golden boy. At least there’s some political justice.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Liberals Give Democrats A Good Name

On the heels of what I wrote about earlier today, here is a perfect example of what the Democratic Party can be, with a little help from the left. Darcy Burner is running for Congress in Washington’s 8th district and she is exactly what this country needs in the fight to take our country back from the inside the beltway, establishment politicians that run it now. In her newest campaign ad she takes on the Democratically controlled Congress and their inexplicable capitulation to Bush/Cheney yet again on the FISA bill.

Clearly Darcy Burner is no tool of the Democratic Party (check out these comments by Darcy on the FISA bill) and given the chance, will fight for us, even if that means taking on her fellow Democrats. Thanks Darcy, my hopefulness about the future of this country is buoyed yet again.

Momentum Toward The Left

There are many upsides to the deterioration of the influence of the Right and the discrediting of Conservative ideology. The most immediate and obvious upside is that it appears the country isn’t going to elect a Republican President again anytime soon, but another silver lining on the dark cloud hanging over our country is that the progressive left is gaining ground and our ideas are suddenly not only taking hold in the Middle, but are infiltration the Right as well.

As I was falling asleep last night, I heard Mike Huckabee on Hardball discussing healthcare with Chris Matthews and the good Governor said something that, sliding out of the mouth of a Republican, nearly knocked me right out of bed. He said that the Republican Party must stop behaving as a “wholly owned subsidiary of big business.” I couldn’t agree more and that sentiment applies doubly to the Democratic Party.

In my view of things, right or wrong, the GOP has always served the interests of the rich and powerful, whereas the Democratic Party used to support labor, the disadvantaged and the middle and working class. That they now behave (and vote) as a “wholly owned subsidiary of big business” is, by comparison, so much more offensive.

Watching the Democrats debate the other night at the AFL-CIO forum was a breath of fresh air. First off, the crowd was raucous, even heckling when the candidates tried to answer questions not asked instead of the question posed to them. Working Americans are the backbone of this country and “politics as usual” isn’t flying with that crowd any more. We want real answers and we’re sick to death of talking points and slick answers that sound good but are never backed up with action. I think the Democratic Presidential hopefuls on that stage got a glimpse of what they’ll be facing in November of ’08.

I love to listen to Dennis Kucinich, he speaks the truth and puts forth the liberal progressive agenda in a concise and easy to grasp manner. When he addresses the healthcare crisis that is felt by each and every American, he talks about the only solution that makes sense, a not-for-profit, single-payer healthcare system, in other words, Medicare for everyone. When he talks about the war, he expresses what most Americans want, out of Iraq now. On education, it’s simple, we must provide for the education of our nations children from birth onward. The reality is, most people with children work and paying for childcare is a burden that keeps families down, doesn’t properly prepare our children for educational success and creates instability in the workplace. If the success of our economy depends on mothers and fathers going to work each and every day, it is in the best interest of the country to provide a safe, stimulating and educationally rich place for their children to be.

None of the this is rocket science and none of this is out of the mainstream, the real problem in getting these very simple things accomplished is that they run afoul of some very powerful and very well connected special interests with the deep pockets necessary to purchase insurance (in the form of politicians) that none of this ever happens.

I don’t know if Dennis Kucinich is the answer, and taking into account political realities he probably isn’t, but the fact that his very liberal ideas were met with roaring applause is encouraging. Sure, it was from a Democratic crowd, but it should serve to warn the rest of the candidates seeking to stake their claim to the middle ground that the “middle” has moved to the left. For the first time in a long time I’m encouraged. The push from the left is working and even though we’ve only moved inches and are only gaining ground we’ve already lost, it gives me hope that it’s possible. Possible to change course, possible to make a difference and possible to get a candidate that will actually understand where the country is, and more importantly, where we want to go.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Who Needs Terrorists When Our Own Neglect Will Eventually Accomplish The Same Thing?

I was watching the wall-to-wall coverage of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis and one of the constant messages on the crawl was, “Homeland Security doesn’t believe this is terrorist related.” The first thing that came to my mind was, so what? Isn’t the end result the same? The same number of people died, were injured, and the same damage was done to a city and its infrastructure. Who cares if it was terrorist related?

If a power surge overwhelms our electrical grid and plunges the entire country into darkness and chaos, is it any less a national tragedy if it’s due to our failure to invest in critical infrastructure than if it’s the result of a well placed Al Qaeda bomb?

If a nuclear facility, oil refinery, airline or chemical plant cuts corners on safety to save money and something goes horribly wrong, is it somehow worse if it’s “terrorist related” than if it’s caused by deregulation and capitalism run amok?

Not only is this misguided administration creating more terrorists by way of their imperial foreign policy, but they also continue to waste our tax dollars that are desperately needed here at home. We have deteriorating infrastructure that is putting us all in danger, and the threat it poses far exceeds that of a possible terrorist attack.

We have antiquated water and sewer systems. There are roads, bridges, dams and levees all across this country in need of serious attention and we have an electrical grid that needs critical updating not to mention a whole host of other problems. We ignore them at our own peril while fixing them would be good for the flailing (for most of us anyway) economy and would even grow the shrinking middle class.

What we need in this country is a massive public works program that will put Americans to work at decent jobs for family wage pay while simultaneously investing in our critical national infrastructure. This would allow us to make use of new technologies (hell, even create new and innovative industries), make better use of our natural resources and provide better security, both personal and national. Too bad we elected a guy that can’t think his way out of a wet paper bag let alone navigate the maze of problems we face as a nation. To all of the Americans that voted for this man, all I have to say is, I hope that imaginary beer with Bush was worth all the trouble we’re in now.

Monday, August 06, 2007

An Explanation

For all of you that have been wondering where I went and why I suddenly stopped blogging, I’ve finally decided to give explaining it a shot. Even though I didn’t plan it, you have to admit that my last blog post title turned out to be perfect.

I never intended to stop blogging altogether and I really didn’t think I’d be able to go very long without spouting off about one thing or another, but it turns out, even I have adapted to the Bush administration. I have not only come to accept that they will blatantly lie, thwart our constitution and exhibit generally undemocratic (not to mention sociopathic) behavior, but I expect it from them now. I don’t know where that step falls in the grieving process, but I’ve reached it nonetheless. The death of the country I thought I knew has affected me in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

My break from blogging started off innocently enough, I just wanted to take a few days to relax, read a few books and catch up on the piles of personal stuff that had accumulated on my desk. But with my kids home for the summer, family vacations, a business I’m trying to run and an exciting new project (of course involving political writing), I quickly became overwhelmed and a week turned into two, which turned into two months and the more time that passed, it became harder and harder to pick back up again. It really is as simple as that.

Although I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been keeping up on the news, but that’s no surprise. Getting a political junkie to stop talking about it is one thing, cutting off the fix is much harder to do. I don’t know if this is the beginning of me blogging every day again, but I have learned one thing during my absence. I may not need the blog to keep my sanity the way I once did, but I do feel a bit un-tethered when I’m not doing it. I suppose that was something I needed to learn.

Friday, June 01, 2007

…Then The Party Came To A Crashing Halt

Let me state the obvious in terms that Republicans can relate to. The GOP is losing market share and they have a bad brand. With a large field of Republican wannabe Presidents all trying to claim the mantle of Reagan, yet Pat Buchanan is on television saying that Republicans in DC are driving Reagan Republicans “straight back to the Democratic Party,” I’d say the GOP is in trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of folks.

I’ve always given credit to the Bush administration for being politically astute, but as is usually the case, any credit extended to this incompetent group may turn out to be too much. Bush is left with an approval rating consisting solely of his base, yet he has decided to take on immigration reform in such a way as to increase the number of immigrant workers coming into the country at a time when jobs are becoming more and more scarce. The question that immediately comes to mind is why?

As far as I can tell, the main objective of this administration has been to increase profits of the biggest corporations and the wealth of the richest Americans. Apparently, creating a permanent under underclass that will provide a continuous stream of low-wage workers for industry that has come to rely on it to maximize their profits is worth pissing off the last 28% of Americans still propping up the Bush Presidency.

George W. Bush has used fear mongering as a preferred method of gaining support for what would otherwise be unpopular policies, and it has a been pretty successful tactic thus far. I find it amusing that he is now caught off guard by the venom with which his most gullible victims are reacting to his, in their mind, completely incomprehensible stance on immigration. These people are amongst the last Americans still supporting the continued occupation of Iraq because they have been tricked into believing that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, and they have bought into the threats that “if we leave Iraq now, they will follow us home.” Now that Bush has stirred up their fears that “the others” are coming to blow up our cities, it’s kind of difficult to get them to swallow the idea that letting in more “others” from across the border is a good idea. Oops.

In a related story, The RNC has fired all of their telephone fundraisers and closed its phone center. The RNC says it’s because of outdated equipment, but the fired workers tell a different story, they say that fundraising has dropped off significantly and the Party faithful are in full revolt over the immigration bill and are refusing to give money. Again, couldn’t happen to a nicer group of folks, not the fundraisers in the call center but rather the fear-mongering, self interested and greedy Republicans that have shaped policy for their own political and financial gain, the good of the country be damned.

Republican voters are disillusioned and unhappy with the slate of candidates they currently have to choose from. Fred Thompson is hoping to slide into the race and inspire the base in a way the current field has been unable to do. He’s an actor, so he may be able to schmooze his way into the nomination of his Party, but in the end, Republican voters will be as disappointed with him as they have been with the rest. It’s only a matter of time before the vast majority of voters who have ever leaned Republican will realize that the candidates aren’t the problem. The GOP and what it stands for has simply become outdated. What this country needs most right now is optimism, hope, innovation and real ideas to get us moving in the right direction so we can rejoin, and hopefully lead, the world again and that sure as hell isn’t going to come from the status quo Party lead by a bunch of old white guys with 20th century mindsets.

The Republican Party is all smoke and mirrors. Mitt Romney cooked the books in Massachusetts in order to make it look as if he turned a deficit into a surplus, but that can appear to happen when you overestimate the deficit, shift money from one place to another, don’t contribute to the “rainy day fund” (as mandated by Massachusetts law) and defer payments until after you leave office. Rudy Giuliani made a strategic blunder by placing the emergency command center in the one place in NYC that was most likely to be attacked (and did), yet somehow managed to make his walking through the rubble of his city to get there, appear brave rather than stupid. John McCain, a man who not long ago reportedly considered switching Parties, has positioned himself as the most radical neo-con of them all. Fred Thompson is being billed as the Bible belt’s golden boy, but what kind of paragon of Christian morality marries a woman young enough to be his grandchild?

The American people are tired of smoke and mirrors, fantastical thinking and policies based on wishful thinking. We’re looking for representation, not a false prophet. We’ve been saddled with one of those for the last six and a half years. No more throwbacks, we’re moving on.

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?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yes, I Have A Smoking Gun In My Hand, But It’s Not Mine, Although I Can’t Recall Who Handed It To Me. Am I Still In Trouble?

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Bush administration is imploding? The weight of all of the scandals, the inappropriate use of government offices and the infusion of political priorities into every single aspect of our government is finally threatening to collapse the whole sordid structure they’ve built. The references to the Bush Crime Family have always seemed a stretch to me, but as the whole mess unravels, it appears more and more like racketeering all the time. Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rove and all the others, have not only acted inappropriately as representatives and employees of the people, but they have build an operating system that condones and facilitates all of their bad (illegal) behavior.

In an attempt to avoid Congressional oversight, the Bush administration, with the help of the RNC and big Republican donors, set up a shadow communications system within the White House. The theory was, that since the communications were made on a private system rather than a government system, the emails weren’t subject to public scrutiny. This theory, like the neo-con theory that led us into the quagmire of Iraq, was riddled with flaws and may just lead to their downfall. You see, private communications can remain private (unless of course you’re just an average American subject to spying by the NSA) as long as no crimes are committed. Once a crime is suspected, then the communications are subject to subpoena, and there is no executive privilege option for hiding emails that were routed through the RNC. Oops!

You can call it a conspiracy or a culture of corruption, but it’s worth pointing out the many and varied investigations that are either ongoing, or that have already resulted in convictions of Republican officials and operatives. They may seem on the surface to be unconnected, but the one thing they all have in common is electoral math. There’s Tom DeLay’s illegal redistricting plan in Texas, since struck down by the Supreme Court. Tom Noe’s illegal funneling of stolen money into the Bush/Cheney campaign (not to mentionhis wife’s questionable behavior as Chair of the Lucas County Board of Elections). There’s the firing of US Attorneys who refused to halt investigations into corrupt Republicans or refused to manufacture investigations into Democrats in key states. The NSA spying that appears to have had more to do with political intelligence than foreign intelligence. And the big one, the war that was supposed to provide George W. Bush with the political capital necessary to implement a neo-conservative (not to mention Chrito-facsist) agenda while providing cover for the behind the scenes war profiteering and shady maneuvers to ensure a permanent Republican majority, not through public acceptance of their tried and true ideology, but though manipulation of our electoral system from illegal redistricting to privately owned voting machines and more legal hurdles to voting.

There’s news today of a new sweeping investigation by the Office of Special Councel into Karl Rove and his entire political operation that used our government agencies to ensure Republican electoral dominance. The firing of US Attorney David Iglesias, the political pressure put on government employees to use their positions to further Rove’s political agenda, the missing emails and the shadow communications system are all on the table in this investigation. For the Bush administration, the strength of their ideas is not enough to ensure political victory, leaving manipulation and suppression of the vote as their best option for maintaining power.

It’s about time there was one sweeping investigation into how this White House operates, and the RNC communications network might very well be the thing that ties the many disparate investigations together. It might even lead to some answers as to what really happened during the 2004 election, although as I heard Noam Chomsky say in a speech recently, “that is mostly an elite affair” and he’s not wrong. Far too many people have ignored the very real possibility of a stolen election, either because it’s too frightening to contemplate or it just seems par for the course. But still, there is evidence emerging that suggests this same RNC system was used to count the votes from Ohio on Election Night. That is a huge development and it opens up the possibility that the OSC investigation could accidentally stumble upon the smoking gun. Now wouldn’t that be a nice turn of events?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Bush Administration Plays Limbo With The Law: How Low Can They Go?

When liars testify before Congress, surprise, surprise...THEY LIE. Alberto Gonzales is in hot water because he has repeatedly lied about his involvement in the firing of 9 US Prosecutors so why should we expect that he’d tell the truth under oath? The grilling Gonzales received from both Democrats and Republicans on Thursday did nothing to shed light on the truth, but the AG’s answers to the questions posed to him did highlight the lack of credibility of his current story which boils down to, ‘I fired them, but I don’t know how they made it on the list to be fired, but I can assure you that there were not improper motives for firing them, although I can’t tell you the proper reasons.’ In other words, trust me. Sorry Gonzo, checks written on your credibility account have been bouncing for years.

My favorite moment in the hearing was when Senator Chuck Schumer pointed out that the Attorney General had set the bar unbelievably low as to what constitutes improper behavior. Both Gonzales and his Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson stated multiple times under oath that it would be improper to fire a US Attorney in an effort to interfere with a specific case. No Mr. Gonzales, that would be ILLEGAL. One would think that what is improper would fall well below that egregious offense. But even that charge cannot be fully dismissed considering that Carol Lam was fired just as her investigation into public corruption had moved beyond the Legislative branch and was inching closer to the White House. While the interference in that case may very well be illegal, certainly firing Prosecutors that won’t carry out the political agenda as laid out by Karl Rove, is improper to say the least.

One thing we know about the Bush administration is that they suck at policy but they revel in politics. This administration has shown a willingness hell, an eagerness, to weaken government agencies in an effort to strengthen their political hand. It’s who they are. The fact that they have politicized the Justice Department, while not surprising, is detrimental to the functioning of our government on the most basic level. It recalibrates the dispensing of justice to favor a political party over the people. That is why this investigation matters and why we should care what it reveals. I don’t much care if Alberto Gonzales is nailed for the underlying crime, as long as he’s nailed for a crime and driven far away from our government and barred from dispensing his form of justice (torture and illegal wiretapping to name a few) ever again.

Like Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s obstruction of Justice, Alberto Gonzales’s lying to Congress could result in one more tumor excised from our ailing democracy. It doesn’t much matter how that tumor is discovered, just that it is removed. Now if we could just get Cheney for tax evasion (or war profiteering) and Bush for illegal use of prescription drugs (or reckless incompetence), then we’d really be on our way to a more perfect union.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Moving On Is Hard To Do

Dennis Kucinich was on CNN last night, discussing the Iraq War. He proudly accepted the label “liberal” and stated boldly that he has always been against this war and has even voted against funding it all along. As he was speaking, the bottom of the screen read, “Rep. Dennis Kucinich D-Ohio." I turned to Man of American Dissent and said, “Ohio voters keep sending Kucinich to Congress and I’m supposed to believe that Ohio went for Bush in ’04? Puh-lease.”

All these years later, and I’m still not over it. I’ve still not read or seen anything that has changed my mind about what happened in Ohio in 2004. In fact, evidence continues to drip out that supports the argument that George Bush is an illegitimate president and that his campaign, along with Bush loyalists in key positions, with malice of forethought, rigged the election in his favor.

I remember reading reports of Ken Blackwell, in the months leading up to the election, purging the voter rolls of hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters. I remember him creating arbitrary rules about voter registration and the weight paper it must be printed on. I remember the long lines of mostly black voters in Ohio on Election Day. I remember the mysterious lock down by Homeland Security of the building in Warren County where the last of the votes were tallied. I remember the bizarre numbers coming out of Ohio in the days after the election, numbers that varied wildly from the exit polls. I remember being frightened by what had been revealed, and even more frightened by the silence of traditional media. It was a black time to say the least.

During the following weeks, I poured over election results, county by county, and none of it made any sense. I followed the re-count as it moved forward, out of the spotlight, the result of hard work and diligence by activists not willing to sit down and shut up about the possible thwarting of the democratic process. At that time, I still had hope that the truth would be revealed, and that a hand recount of the ballots would show that there was something rotten in Ohio. How naïve I was. Of course they rigged the recount too.

The silence of the media and the indifference of the Democratic Party forced this, possibly the biggest story of our lifetime, underground where it remains today. Perhaps it’s just too frightening to contemplate, too difficult to accept and the implications too great. But ignoring the continuing saga only puts us at greater risk of a repeat performance. It can happen here, and it has. Why wouldn’t it happen again?

The reason I bring this up now is because the firing of US Attorneys across the country is likely connected to this same rotten scheme. There’s no denying the electoral significance of the states that were targeted by Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department. I was glad to see Robert Reich actually utter the suggestion on television this weekend that this White House wants to make it harder for Americans to vote. That is the real story behind the Attorney purge. It really is that simple.

I’m also rehashing this story because so much is left unrevealed and what is coming out is not widely reported. How many people know that the recount in Ohio was fixed? How many people know that election workers have been convicted of rigging that recount? Mainstream news reports of the conviction make sure to suggest that their actions did nothing to alter the outcome of the election, but that’s just ass covering. We will never know if the vote totals in Cuyahoga County were manipulated, and that is because these elections officials made sure that there would never be a hand recount. I don’t care what their motivations were, democracy was thwarted and the truth was buried.

How many people know that the 2006 election was riddled with “inconsistencies” as well? Who knows what the Rove machine is setting up for 2008? One election turning out right does not mean everything’s okay, it just means enough people voted to override any plan in place to thwart the will of the people. We still have voting machines that are vulnerable to manipulation. We still have a Republican crusade to make voting more difficult. We still have a media that is not at all interested in pursuing the story. The ballots in Ohio have never been counted so we don’t know for sure what happened in 2004, but the circumstantial evidence is enough to convict in the court of public opinion. Well, it would be if more people knew about it.

You can call me a conspiracy theorist and dismiss my concerns as the result of the overactive imagination of a hyperventilating liberal that can’t stand losing. You can, but you’d be wrong. I’m willing to accept that Bush legitimately won the election, I just want the glaring discrepancies and secrecy explained. I accept that enough Americans voted for Bush in 2004 to make it a close election, even if I have a hard time understanding why. I accept that he could have won, but what I know of that election and the amazing things (unexplained glitches, literally unbelievable vote counts and inconsistencies in exit polling) that occurred that have yet to be explained, I just don’t believe that he did. The fact that the Bush administration continues to manipulate any and all information relating to the integrity of our elections, is a good indicator that they’ve got something to hide. Again, it’s circumstantial, but criminals have been convicted on less.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mission Impossible?

Apparently, the Bush administration wants to appoint a War Czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but they can’t seem to find any takers. Gen. John J. Sheehan, Gen. Jack Keane, and Gen. Joseph W. Ralston have all reportedly been tapped for the job and all have declined with Sheehan stating bluntly, "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going."

President Bush is looking for a way out and no one seems interested in helping him do it. The problem is, Bush isn’t trying to find a solution to the disaster in Iraq or finish the job he’s abandoned in Afghanistan, he’s instead looking for a credible name to sign onto his failed policy as he pushes forward aimlessly. With Dick Cheney still the most powerful force within the White House, any General tapped for the job will likely respond similarly to Sheehan who said, "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks.'" His mama clearly didn’t raise no dummies, too bad for the country that Babs Bush was working overtime on that front.

Every attempt to inject reason into Bush administration war policy has failed miserably. Most dissenting voices within the administration have been expunged, those that still remain are ignored, and the Iraq Study Group recommendations were quickly tossed aside in favor of an escalation plan opposed by just about everyone but John McCain. The sad truth is, as long as Bush and Cheney occupy our White House, there will be no resolution in Iraq.

Cheney continues to sell the war using the same old lines and Bush simply doesn’t have a clue how to run a country, form a coherent policy or execute a war. We do have a King and he’s a buck naked, bumbling fool who thinks he rules the world. We The People are the only ones left that can dispel him of that notion. That is our mission should we choose to accept it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Buy A Politician! It’s Not As Expensive As You Might Think!

Technology has really changed the way political campaigns function. We’ve seen citizen produced campaign ads take off like wildfire (like the Hillary as Big Brother ad) and we’ve seen grassroots fundraising skyrocket with the help of the Internet. Barack Obama’s campaign announced last week that 90% of his first quarter campaign contributions were under $100 and came from a whopping 100,000 contributors, half of them through the Internet. Since campaign finance laws have done little to erode the influence of big business and corporate special interests on political candidates and campaigns, We The People must join the party and buy some politicians of our own.

Recently, some bloggers and activists in Oregon decided that Republican Senator Gordon Smith needed to be challenged and they started a movement to draft Peter DeFazio to run against Smith for one of Oregon’s Senate seats. Please check out their most recent post at Daily Kos titled, “$5 Can Change The World” and consider helping out. At this point, they’re not trying to raise big money for the campaign, they are simply trying to show that there is support out there and that the people can deliver as well, or better, than corporate donors. They’ve already reached their first goal and are now on to phase II. The title of the post really does say it all, the money is less important than the statement it makes.

There is power in numbers and with the help of the Internet we now have an easy way to exercise that power. A little bit of money, when added together can create quite a war chest. That is a message we should be make sure our politicians receive loud and clear. If we want a responsive government, we need to make sure that we are the ones picking the candidates, not the fat cats with the deep pockets who expect more for their money than a “thank you”.

Just Another Offensive Old White Guy

As a country, we are pretty fucked up when it comes to sex and race. I’m hearing rumblings from Man of American Dissent about a possible pending post on the topic (sparked by the outrageous comments made by Don Imus last week) so I won’t delve too deeply into the topic just yet. I hope he finds the time to get to it because I’m looking forward to commenting, but until then, I just have to throw in my two cents on Don Imus.

I don’t usually get angry over stupid white men gaffes, but this whole Imus thing has really pissed me off. I don’t care if his colleagues at MSNBC think he’s a “good man” and I don’t care that his most recent disgusting, racist, misogynistic rant was par for the course for his show, but I do care that a bigoted, sexist, disgusting old man has such a large audience and that our elected officials help him draw a crowd by appearing on his show.

Imus apologists claim that he should have latitude because he’s a comedian (although applying that term to Imus is a stretch) and that he shouldn’t be fired for a mistake that he’s apologized for. Fair enough, but I get to be outraged that a grown man would stoop so low as to disparage young women whose only crime is striving for athletic excellence. Such a man deserves the public flogging he’s receiving and if his show is cancelled and/or the rating plummet, good riddance. And really, how “good” of a man can he possibly be if these are the thoughts that lurk just beneath the surface? His colleagues clearly have a much different notion of what constitutes a good man than I.