Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Why Democrats Lose, Part #$%!&!!!!!
Here’s a prediction: the Democrats will not pick up enough seats to take back the Senate, and probably won’t take back the House, either. Of course, the fundraising emails you get from the party or Senator Kerry’s online unit or whatever list you are on will promise otherwise. They’re going to take the Congress back from the Republicans and their “culture of corruption”.
Only problems with this scenario are:
- The Republicans fight dirty, and they fight to win.
- The Democrats ONLY fight when their personal perogatives as legislators are threatened.
This is going to be a long, ugly and dirty political fight this summer, but only one side is fighting. Already, we are seeing the early stages of a Republican campaign to take the knees out from under the Democrats on their whole “culture of corruption” meme. No, this isn’t just the raid on Representative Jefferson. Nope, once again that old hack Senator Reid has led with his chin.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.
Reid took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada’s agency feared might usurp its authority.
He defended the gifts, saying that they would never influence his position on the bill and he was simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry. “Anyone from Nevada would say I’m glad he is there taking care of the state’s number one businesses,” he said. “I love the fights anyways, so it wasn’t like being punished,” added the senator, a former boxer and boxing judge.
What a mealy-mouthed punk he is. Let’s see. This was BOXING, which people place WAGERS on, in LAS VEGAS. What other things in life just SCREAM “corrupt” and “fixed”?!?! It doen’t matter if he didn’t change his votes (not saying he didn’t, frankly don’t care ... he’s a hack, a fraud and doesn’t represent my values). If you ask your proverbial man-on-the-street which sounds sleazier, golf trips in Scotland or boxing matches in Vegas, and he’s going to laugh. “Vegas, of course”.
Some other Senators went with Reid to watch the bouts:
Two senators who joined Reid for fights with the complimentary tickets took markedly differently steps.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) accepted free tickets to another fight with Reid but already had recused himself from Reid’s federal boxing legislation because his father was an executive for a Las Vegas hotel that hosts fights.
Man, this just SMELLS Of a setup. CNN even had a grainy picture of Senators Reid & McCain on the tube this morning, with a highlighting circle helpfully picking Senator Reid’s face out of the crowd.
What does the “leader” of the Democrats in the Senate have to say for himself?
"I’m not Goodie Two Shoes. I just feel these events are nothing I did wrong,” Reid said.[...]
Senate ethics rules require senators to avoid even the appearance that any official meetings or actions they took were in any way connected with political donations.
Reid defended his actions, stating he would never change his position because of donations, free tickets or a request from a former staffer turned lobbyist.
“People who deal with me and have over the years know that I am an advocate for what I believe in. I always try to do it fair, never take advantage of people on purpose,” he said.
Asked if he would have done anything differently, the Senate Democratic leader said his only concern was “the willingness of the press . . . to take these instances and try to make a big deal out of them."
Whine away old man, like you always do. For someone who was supposedly so tough, you sure lead with your chin. You keep your arms down at your side, flat-footed ... offering no sign that you studied your opponent before you stepped into the ring. Your corner men plainly don’t know what the hell they’re doing, yet you’re going to whimper that the press is being unfair?
Wake the fuck up.
How much longer does this country have to be held under the thumbs of the leg-breaking, fight-fixing Republicans and the Dempublicans who help them? I mean, “culture of corruption”?!!?!? How damned effete. CALL THEM CROOKS. Jesus, show just SOME sign that you people give a damn about the damage being done. You so-called “leaders” of the used-to-be party of the people just look like washed up old boxers who eat the canvas on rigged fights, while the bookies on K Street collect bigtime on the action.
No more stories of the glorious past, of your time cleaning up the Boxing Commission Senator Reid. Anybody who thinks Vegas was “cleaned up” is a rube anyway. It just became more civilized about what it does. Just like the scams run by the Bush Family and the sharks on K Street. You Dempublicans aren’t even GOOD at being corrupt. You get caught in this penny-ante crap, with pictures of you taking bribes or sitting ringside ... it’s pathetic. You’re like the marks that mobsters use to front their businesses: if the heat gets too hot, overboard you go, crying and whining about how those OTHER guys are the REAL criminals, you were just trying to get what you had coming to you.
Pathetic, really, and it’s not even summer yet. By the time the Republicans are done with you, and after you continue to fail to really strike back for months on end, the American voter will just throw their hands up and stay home. Why bother voting for an incompetent bunch of wannabe crooks over the mobsters? At least the mobsters take some pride in their work.
Take back Congress?!?! Please.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
LSF Review: An Inconvenient Truth
It may be only 5 months into 2006 but I doubt a more important film will open this year than An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore narrates this fascinating look at global warming from a series of powerpoint presentations he has made around the world. The film is chock full of facts and numbers as well as some incredible photographs that beautifully explain the thesis of the film. It is so well paced and alot of information is given but done in a way that never overwhelms you because the film cuts away from the presentation to let you absorb what you have seen.
The presentation is interspersed with scenes of Gore traveling to various countries as well as his home in Tennessee to show how the information is personal to us as well as to him. There are so many alarming facts but the film is also positive in that he believes we can change the outcome if we act quickly and positively. He reiterates that solving global warming can create jobs and pave the way for future growth on the planet. He gives time to animals and insects as well as humans to show how the warming affects everything. Director Davis Guggenheim has done a masterful job in opening up the film beyond the classroom and pacing the film perfectly.
This is the Al Gore we longed to see in 2000, relaxed, confident and warm. He is immersed in this topic and the news footage shows how he has been for 30 years now. I’m still trying to decide if he didn’t bring this up enough or if the media and the public weren’t listening when he did, probably a bit of both.
Just as Republicans like to say September 11th changed everything (their code phrase for doing anything they please in the name of “national security") Hurricane Katrina is the national disaster that changed everything for Democrats. It showed the terrible job the Bush Administration did in responding to that tragic event and reminded the nation that global warming is not a theory, it is a scientific reality. We now expect major storms again this summer after a horrible tornado season and this will only keep the subject front and center in the national arena.
If you want to find out when the film opens in your town CLICK HERE.
Monday, May 29, 2006
LSF Review: The Big Buy
Robert Greenwald, who gave us Outfoxed has a new film out this week The Big Buy the story of Tom DeLay. Beginning with his inauspicious tenure in the Texas House and subsequent climb to the US House of Reps the film spends most of it’s time on the redistricting of the Texas House and the dealings that lead to his indictment and resignation.
The Big Buy is full of humor and lots of talking heads telling stories about him. From the great Molly Ivins to the wonderful Paul Burka from Texas Monthly they recount the DeLay they have observed. This is one piranha who needed to be removed from the tank and it is wonderful hearing all the facts that lead to his political demise.
The best part of the film is the time spent with Ronnie Earle, discussing the case against DeLay and the Texans for a Republican Majority pac that he was affiliated with. Earle is a straight shooter and puts DeLay square in his sights. It’s no partisan thing with him, it’s just another case of ‘cops and robbers’ which gives DeLay absolutely no cover.
The capper of the film is a clip where Jack Abrahmoff introduces DeLay saying that he is ‘who we all want to be when we grow up’. One can only surmise that the ‘we’ he refers to are other aspiring crooks who look forward to their indictments as well. The film is also out on DVD so check it out in theaters or put it on your Netflix queue, it’s worth the time.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
The Only Winning Formula For 2006 and Beyond
My rant for May is an important one and it can be condensed to one quick phrase: Stop Talking About the Cart and Talk About the Horse! We will accomplish nothing of value if we don’t fix the engine that drives our agenda home.
This week I attended a Move On meeting that was trying to get people to succinctly talk about issues. The problem was the issues discussed were fantastic but presently unreachable at the same time. I’ll explain: who amongst us doesn’t want a cleaner environment, better schools, less crime and and end to war? We want terrorists caught and poverty fought, affordable and clean energy and a better life for children.
But please understand, none of this will happen with platitudes and slogans. None of it will happen if we have a slight majority of Democrats in Congress and the Senate. There is one huge reason why and that is we have lost the Mainstream Media for the time being. It is owned lock, stock and barrel by a triumvirate of Corporations, Republicans and Religious Extremists.
Just to give you a quick peek, on the last NBC Nightly News we had a report from the Indonesia earthquake by a group called “Operation Blessing” based in Virginia Beach, VA. Need I say more? Yes, there is more and that was the second news piece on the Pope and his visit to Poland where he proclaimed that the previous Pope reiterated his desire to make the previous Pope a saint on a fast track just like Mother Theresa. For those of you that weren’t raised Catholic this is nothing short of selling the Corporate Brand via the biggest publicity push possible. The church for centuries has had a lengthy vetting process that is being circumvented like never before in recent history for one reason and one reason only: to rally the base. Here is the Catholic Church as Home Depot and it won’t be changing anytime soon. The media is right there covering their press releases with no evaluation. It was the same last week when Tweety shilled for Opus Dei from their very own headquarters (which women must enter via the side entrance!).
There is one way only that this can change, do you want to hear it? It’s a 2-pronged assault on our system and it must be dealt with or we will continue fighting our fight on a playing field slanted like a treadmill fixed on 90% incline. We must reinstate the Fairness Doctrine so we can have at least the semblance of balance. Before Reagan killed this doctrine in 1988 there were no unfettered rants by Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Fox News and all of ‘hate radio’ without the opposite view being expressed, to do otherwise was to risk not only losing your FCC license to broadcast on the public’s airwaves but to incur heavy fines. If we could balance these relentless untruths we could recreate the forum we used to have for more coherent debate in the United States.
The second thing we must do is demand the FCC Regulate Media Ownership which was abolished by Michael Powell when he was head of the FCC under George Bush. This was hotly debated and when Powell and the FCC were forced to have open hearings around the US, over 95% of all people testifying vehemently argued against the passage of this bad idea. This has allowed Networks and Newspapers and TV and Radio stations to be owned by ever fewer and larger corporations so there is little independent or varied voice left in the media and the majority of it is in just a few hands. If you have any doubts about who won in this debacle it was none other than Corporate America and their best buddies the Republican Party. The huge problem is that since this happened the Democrats have become just as bought and sold via corporate donations so the public is in a lose-lose situation. It is the worst possible predicament because as an increasingly poorly educated population turn on their tv and radios they get the smallest spectrum of information we have ever received.
I cannot argue this point strongly enough, if we don’t demand all progressive candidates accomplish these two things, nothing else they do will ever gain any traction. The corporate media owns almost everything you tap into save the internet and they are closing their grip by the minute. If we squeak by and elect the Democrats of today to a slim majority very little will change because the debate will still be controlled by the corporate owned media and the flood of hate radio and slanted cable and network television will stop any real discussion in its tracks. Do you wonder why Bush with the same 29% approval rating as Nixon upon his resignation doesn’t even sweat the notion of Censure or Impeachment? The media gives cover to this Administration as much as possible and drops the ball at every turn. Do you think this is sheer coincidence? It is coordinated and has been implemented in a determined fashion over the past 2 decades.
If you can’t see the media rallying behind Bush right now to get his poll numbers up, you need to put on your glasses. This group sings in heinous harmony. We dance to their piper and it’s time it stopped. This is the only way anything will ever change. The wool needs to be pulled off the heads of Americans and this is absolutely the only mechanism that will accomplish that.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
More Desert On the Way?
New research suggests that we may be seeing more deserts on the planet as well as in some populated urban areas:
Deserts in the American Southwest and around the globe are creeping toward heavily populated areas as the jet streams shift, researchers reported Thursday.
The result: Areas already stressed by drought may get even drier. Satellite measurements made from 1979 to 2005 show that the atmosphere in the subtropical regions both north and south of the equator is heating up. As the atmosphere warms, it bulges out at the altitudes where the northern and southern jet streams slip past like swift and massive rivers of air. That bulging has pushed both jet streams about 70 miles closer to the Earth’s poles. Since the jet streams mark the edge of the tropics, in essence framing the hot zone that hugs the equator, their outward movement has allowed the tropics to grow wider by about 140 miles.
The movement has allowed the subtropics to edge toward populated areas, including the American Southwest, southern Australia and the Mediterranean basin. In those places, the lack of precipitation already is a worry. Additional creep could move Africa’s Sahara Desert farther north, worsening drought conditions that are already a serious problem on that continent and bringing drier weather to the countries that ring the Mediterranean Sea.
“The Mediterranean is one region that models consistently show drying in the future. That could be very much related to this pattern that we are seeing in the atmosphere,” said Isaac Held, a senior research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was not connected with the research.
As the tropics expand, tropical diseases will also spread farther north and south which is not good news. The desert areas on the planet will expand including the desert southwest in this country. Also on this topic I’ll be seeing Al Gore’s film sometime this weekend and will post about it afterwards.
"We'll definitely fight a little bit if Satan himself is put forward." - Senator Biden
Wow, check out this latest Bush nominee’s confirmation:
Today, Democrats have once agreed not to fight another Bush nominee. So, Beelzebub will be confirmed as the Secretary of Transportation. Senator Reid praised Mr. Beelzebub for his long work in public service and said he had an inspiring background story—he rose up from anonymity and poverty to take on God himself.
Democrats were immediately forced to cave in and vote for the nominee. This marked the 666th straight concession by the Democrats. When asked if their base might be bothered by the confirmation of one of Satan’s minions, they said, “Ahh, our base is loony anyway! Screw ‘em, we’re running to the right, baby."
Go there now to read several Democratic Senator’s reasons for helping Bush get his way yet again.
Oh, and while they were at it, they confirmed these two as well.
Friday, May 26, 2006
fri rdm 10 - "who needs checks & balances?" edition
Just when I was enjoying the news that Kenny Boy and his friend actually got convicted, I wake up to this news:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA director in a vote that gave a broad bipartisan endorsement to the architect of President George W. Bush’s domestic spying program.
Hayden, 61, who has served as principal deputy to U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte up to now, replaces Porter Goss, who forced to resign earlier this month.
So what else is new? They apparently couldn’t wait to get that over with, could they? I wonder if they sent him over some hookers and blow as a sign of their worshipful admiration. Maybe Porter can help plan the party. I hear he’s got plenty of time on his hands.
We really are screwed, blued and tattooed.
Anyway, what does my little digital friend have to say about it this friday morning?
- “Coldsweat" - Sugercubes : Boy were they ahead of their time.
- "The Killing Moon” - Echo & the Bunnymen : Timeless.
- "Take a Chance on Romance” - Shaver : I am such a sucker for Billie Joe Shaver. I was lucky enough to chat with him and his son Eddie before they did a show at the Rodeo Bar several years ago. Really great guys. Country lost a great guitarist when Eddie overdosed.
- "You Belong to Me” - Bob Dylan : Great song.
- "Free Nelson Mandela” - The Specials : This really hasn’t aged well, but it’s still good to get that little jolt of poofy-haircut era nostalgia.
- "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” - Sandra Bernhard : LOL ... I just HAD to load “Lesbian Favorites - Women Like Us" onto this thing. Some really great songs on here.
- "Good Feeling” - Violent Femmes : Man, I never heard someone sound so depressed about feeling good. Great “tear in my beer” kind of song.
- "Highway to Hell” - AC/DC : LOL ... well, THAT fits the current climate, THAT’S for sure.
- "Shoplifters of the World Unite” - Smiths : Hey, when the economy collapses, this might just run through your head as you head to the nearest Wal-Mart with nothing in your pockets but lint.
- "I Spent My Last Ten Dollars on Birth Control and Beer” - Two Nice Girls: A second cut from “Lesbian Favorites”! I wonder if my player was inspired by all of those salacious Hillary rumors?
Hmmmm, all over the map this morning ... sorta like that pathetic excuse for an opposition political party.
Anyway, go find something fun to listen to and have a great holiday weekend!
She's Not There
Atrios has written a very important post today on why we should be alarmed at this latest breathless girly gossip about Hillary Clinton. I have received a lot of emails and comments to the effect that Hillary is a (fill in the blank) and so deserves itand therefore we should all be happy that the New York Times is doing God’s work by destroying her candidacy. This is a very short sighted and historically clueless way to look at this. We call these “Clinton Rules” but they are not really about the Clintons — it’s about the press corps and the way they treat Democrats.
Geez, give it a rest already. Hillary Clinton has only herself to blame, and this goes for the most of the rest of the Democrats in Congress, as well as most of the putative candidates lining up for 2008 who aren’t still in the Congress.
Lets do a quick thought experiment. Tell yourself, quickly, a story about Senator Clinton. Who is she? What does she stand for? What is her story? What are her formative experiences, and how do they inform what she does now?
Can’t do it, can you?
No, no, not her curriculum vitae ... that’s not what’s missing. Her people spew that crap out on cue. Not her voting record, not her latest plan or faux centrist compromises or flip flops ... none of that is what we’re discussing here.
Senator Clinton is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party in DC.
Senator Clinton epitomizes the empty hole that the DC Democrats leave in our government. She, and they, are a negative space, defined by what is around them. They can’t tell you who they are, so Republican whisper campaigns do it for them. They are unable to spin a tale of their lives, compelling reasons for anyone to look to them, support them, lift them onto the people’s shoulders to represent the nation’s hopes and dreams. Notice, remember, understand ... everytime another feckless loser is elevated to lead the party, it is done so with appeals to giants in the past, with little or nothing to connect the present empty suits with those who created the New Deal, the Civil Rights Acts ... politicians who built coalitions, busted heads, fought and strove to achieve not only their ambitions, not only to fulfill their careers, but to leave a mark, impact the world, BE someone, focus the power and hopes and goals of their supporters.
Do another thought experiment. Think of the story of Bush’s life. Yes, yes, we know it is a lie, but we all know the narrative. We all know of the wastrel’s life. We know of the love of a good woman, and the Love of his Savior and his redemption on his fortieth birthday. We know of his steely resolve and his “values” and how he will fight for those values. It doesn’t matter that we, his opponents, know that this story is a lie. He’s has set it into the public mind. He and his machine have described it and spin it out over and over again, and they weave that story into the tapestry of what they do now. Many of the Republicans do this ... go ahead, think about Delay or Santorum or Brownback. They are adept at this essential element of politics. It’s not enough to have plans. It’s not enough to be an “expert”, to offer some promise of prowess and managerial skill, and that’s about all that most of the Democrats offer. How many times have they promised to “win” the war in Iraq, to basically continue the story that Bush started, only to do it “better”?
This isn’t just a question of having the right argument. A politician, a LEADER, must have a reason other than their own ambition to lead. There must be some goal, a goal that is tied somehow to her life, her experiences, her compassion and understanding based on having lived and struggled and worked to become someone, something, to bring something better into the world than was there before. Sadly, many politicians and “leaders” have only pretended to do this, but they at least had the good sense to tell a convincing yarn and make it believable.
Politics is the art of forming collective action out of the shared beliefs of a group of people. It can be focused through a personality or a party or a Constitution or some manifesto, but it is necessary to have some lens to focus that energy. Any group who can’t do that will be defined by one that can. Distortions will be pinned to them like tails on a donkey.
Neil Gaiman, in at Wired, wrote a piece about Superman that is instructive:
About a decade ago, Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman comic strips in the 1940s and ‘50s, published one of the great Odd Books of our time. In An Unlikely Prophet, reissued in paperback this spring, Schwartz writes that Superman is real. He is a tulpa, a Tibetan word for a being brought to life through thought and willpower. Schwartz also says a Hawaiian kahuna told him that Superman once traveled 2,000 years back in time to keep the island chain from being destroyed by volcanic activity. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t, but it does sound like a job for Superman – all in a day’s work for a guy who can squeeze coal into diamonds.
Politicians are just human beings. Great politicians are people who convince people that they represent something more, and they fulfill that promise. They become, in a sense, a tulpa, a living embodiment of the promises made to their followers. There are, in history, few great politicians, but Senator Clinton has NO chance of becoming one. Failing to define herself, she is defined by her enemies. As Marisacat puts it:
The other thing about the DC Dems is that they have spun losing as winning for so long, they are in terminal confusion.
They are trapped in this self-defeating cycle, and they lack the will or the life experiences to help them escape. There are a few exceptions to this, like Senator Feingold, Representative Conyers or Representative Saunders, but they are the exception that proves the rule. (Go watch Senator Feingold’s campaign ads to see how he deals with Republican distortions, the way a man with a mission can set his own agenda, write his own story, and do it with humor and integrity).
Bitch all you want about the media, but in the absence of another narrative, backed by sincere belief and righteous certainty, the lazy wretches trying to maintain their cozy corporate checks and perks will keep regurgitating the same tired stories, and those stories are all being written based on Republican whispers.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Falling Through the Donut Hole
You may not be there yet, but someone you know might be. Many of us are one chronic illness, one lost job, one terrible accident away from needing help from public health programs to get our medical care and prescriptions. Of course, after over three decades of pursuing the free market fundamentalism of the Republicans and the Clinton-corrupted Vichy Dempublicans, our government programs for helping people get medical and prescription care are being deformed into corporate welfare for HMOs and Big Pharma. If you want to keep abreast of what’s going on, keep an eye out for the blogger Street Kid, who’s got another great diary up on the front page of the Booman Tribune
Millions of seniors and people with disabilities who depend on Part D for prescription coverage will hit the “donut hole”. The donut hole is a gap in coverage. Prescriptions are paid for until the amount of $2250 for the cost of the prescriptions is reached.
According to CMS, if a drug costs $150 and the beneficiary’s co-payment is $40, the full $150 is calculated toward the “donut hole"/coverage gap.
During the time period that a person is in the “donut hole”, he/she is also responsible for the payments on the policy, in addition to the costs for prescriptions until the amount of $5100.00 is paid. This results with $2850.00 that must be paid by a person who is on a fixed income. Millions of people who aren’t aware of the donut hole or its severity will be unable to afford their prescriptions.
You can find her long list of diaries on the Medicare Part Debacle HERE.
Her work demonstrates one of the great things about blogs, and one of the best aspects of some of the community sites ... a way for people with a strong interest or expertise to help us all keep up with the various ways our country is being sold down the river, without everyone needing to set up, fund and maintain a separate blog of their own. Kudos to the Booman Tribune and My Left Wing for offering their outlets to strong voices like Street Kid.
Rule of Law?
The bile rises in the throat of any thinking person when confronted by statements like this, from Lou Dobbs:
We are a nation of immigrants, and there is no more diverse and welcoming society than ours. But we are first a nation of laws, and upholding those laws and our national values makes this great country of ours possible.
We’ve shredded every treaty we signed with the original inhabitants of this country, despite the fact that our Constitution states that ALL treaties have the force of law. After that, we fail to fulfill promises made to protect the assets due the people who hold what little wasn’t stolen.
A nation of laws?
We have invaded a sovereign nation, AGAIN, in violation of international law. We have an Attorney General who oversaw legal memos justifying the torture of human beings, again in contravention of treaties this nation signed and ratified. We use the power of the state to spy on citizens without warrants.
We built into our law at the beginning of this nation the enslavement of human beings, then fought a bloody war over it. Since then, we’ve used both legal and extra-legal mechanisms to trap the descendents of those slaves in second class status. We have some of the highest incarceration rates in the world, locking people up for victimless crimes using evidence obtained by bending or ignoring Constitutional rights against unreasonable search-and-seizure. We maintain a “justice system” which metes out its processes with little or no help for those without resources to defend themselves. Sometimes, we bloodthirstedly call for the execution of those self-same under-represented people.
We celebrate a culture of cheating, where corporations and the wealthy support an entire industry of lawyers and accountants who exist only to help them avoid taxes. A culture where we look the other way when our children cheat on tests to get into a good school. We cheat on our own taxes, drive over the speed limit ... maybe you’ve pocketed something when no one was looking at sometime or another? We cheat and lie and steal and look at anybody who doesn’t as suckers. We elected a President who made a career out of insider trading and favors, and who lied his way into the Presidency, and lied this country into an illegal war.
A nation of law?
What does it mean to have a nation of law? One would guess that this means a nation that systematically works toward achieving some measure of justice:
The proper administration of the law; the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law. A title given to certain judges, such as federal and state supreme court judges.
Have we ever, in any way, shape or form been anywhere CLOSE to fulfilling that definition? The rightwing of this country, chests swelling with pronouncements of the importance of the rule of law, is once again seeking to cloak it’s insularity, racism and ignorance in righteous rhetorical clothing.
We are a nation of arbitrary law, which is by definition a nation without justice. Depending on your race, or even on your gender, you may or may not have any hope of a fair and equal hearing. A sizable number of us, confronted by migrants seeking a way to make a living, seeking to give their children food or themselves hope for a better future, demand that those arbitrary laws be aimed squarely at these “invaders”, despite the fact that many of our very own parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were reviled themselves when they came here to escape hopelessness in their own lands. We can hide behind the skirts of the argument that they came here “legally”, but that is only to deny that laws to control immigration were established to keep out unwanted racial groups. One could argue that we’ve looked away much of the time from the undocumented workers from latin america because we’ve been unwilling to confront the problem of racism and unemployment amongst black Americans, preferring to play one unliked group off against another unliked group, ESPECIALLY if there is profit to be made.
So spare us the righteous indignation Mr. Dobbs. As has happened over and over again in the history of this country, the nativists and the greedy amongst us launch appeals for the application of the “rule of law” when it suits them. It isn’t the application of arbitrary rules that is the problem here, Mr. Dobbs, but rather the lack of “fair and equitable treatment” under a system of law that applies equally to all, that is respected by all. Perhaps you could devote more time to talking to Americans about holding themselves accountable for following the laws we already have, and for holding our elected officials accountable to the foundations of our system of law, rather than politically driven demogoguery and thuggery.
You say you want a country that respects the rule of law? Lets start with ourselves, first.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Bush Does His Vito Corleone Act Again
Our illustrious goon of a President is insinuating up a storm these days, whether it’s Iran or Latin America. Here’s his latest salvo to our Southern neighbors:
President George W. Bush said on Monday he was concerned about the erosion of democracy in Venezuela and Bolivia. “Let me just put it bluntly, I’m concerned about the erosion of democracy in the countries you mentioned,” Bush said.
Morales and Chavez are close allies and, with Cuban President Fidel Castro, have formed a leftist alliance that aims to stifle what they say is U.S. political and economic hegemony in Latin America.
Well isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black, Bush worrying about democracy while he guts the Constitution and destroys every check and balance our government has. Here’s his lovely Vito moment:
Bush said he will continue to work with countries in the hemisphere on free trade to remind “that relations with the United States would be beneficial to their people."
Do you think he’ll send his guys over to pick up some protection money?
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Hot Air & Empty Nostrums
When he’s not busy recruiting hack Dempublicans and destroying the ties between the Democratic Party and its base, Senator Schumer apparently has time to write books:
At the heart of Mr. Schumer’s critique is the idea that the political system has failed to provide answers at a time when Americans are increasingly alarmed about how technology is reshaping their lives — for example, by making it easier for workers in China and India to compete with Americans for jobs.
“The average American realizes this in his gut — that the world has changed, but the political parties have not,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview on Sunday.
Mr. Schumer said that government had a role in addressing these new realities, but that neither party had outlined that role.
He argued that both parties, for starters, should free themselves from outmoded political approaches, Democrats from a New Deal belief in government and Republicans from the Reaganite distrust of it.
Mr. Schumer said that he was going beyond calling for what President Bill Clinton once called “the third way,” the path exploiting the center between New Deal liberalism and Reagan conservatism.
“What Bill Clinton did was modify Reagan Republicanism and put a Democratic face on it,” Mr. Schumer said. “That’s not going to work. You need a whole new paradigm.”
Mr. Schumer offered 15 goals intended to help middle-class Americans, including cutting property taxes by 50 percent and increasing college attendance by 50 percent.
What sage and wonderful advice to we have to look forward to from the Senator from New York? His title tries to sum it up:
Schumer’s "50 Percent Solution" does just that, laying out 15 major value goals with specific proposals aimed at middle class America. The book is called the 50 Percent Solution because the ideas it advances are aimed at changing America in many ways by fifty percent. For example, the value goals include cutting property taxes by 50 percent, increasing college attendance by 50 percent, and reducing on-line pornography currently available to children by 50 percent.
Schumer’s book is the first substantive effort by a leading Democrat to get the party to start coming up with the new ideas and governing philosophy that best confront the challenges of the modern era. The book is intended to be a blueprint for Democrats to use to become the dominant party for decades to come.
Well, we all know that he’s helped reduce any sensible strategies coming out of Washington by at least 50%, so that seems to be simple-minded groove he can stay in. Like his friends Senator Clinton, Senator Reid and Representative Emmanuel, Senator Schumer is all about the empty, simple policy “solutions”. Oh, and don’t worry, His counterpart at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), also is publishing a book on how Democrats can regain political momentum.. That momentum will no doubt be garnered by grinding genuine grassroots progressives under the wheels carrying the demands of big money corporations and institutionalized Washington.
That’s right folks, step right up and get your
DLC Third Way whatever-our-hack-consultants-tell-us-to-call-it Official Democratic Party Snake Oil today. Guaranteed to pander to the Hallmark Nation, grease the wheels of war, starve the poor, evict the working class and line the pockets of Gigantor Corp® today and for years into the future.
So, Senator, NOW You Care?
The sheer chutzpah of this sort of thing never seizes to amaze me:
My wife, Teresa, is honored by the degree you grant her, today. But she’s also here to honor you because when you grow up in a dictatorship as she did, when you don’t get a chance to vote until you’re thirty-one , when you see your father voting for the first time in his seventies, you know what a privilege it is to cast a ballot.
Through that long night, we in Massachusetts watched you in Gambier. We were honored. We were inspired. We were determined not to concede until our team had checked every possibility. If you could stay up all night to vote, we could certainly stay up that next day to make sure your vote would count. In the end, we couldn’t close the gap. We would have given anything to have fulfilled your hopes.
Oh yes, that vaunted team, the team that helped you run a lackluster campaign. That team that you promised us in fundraising email after fundraising email would “protect the vote” ... you mean THAT team made sure votes were counted?
Of course, that “hard work” lasted barely twenty four hours until you were up on a stage conceding the result of an election that ANYBODY could see had some serious irregularities. Remember THIS little gem in that pathetic excuse for “leadership”?
In America, it is vital that every vote count and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail, but it is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won’t be enough outstanding votes for us to be able to win Ohio. And therefore, we cannot win this election.
Oh yes, Senator, you sure appreciated those people who stood in the rain and pulled the lever, pushed the button, filled in the optically-scanned bar for you. Yessirree, I know how much you cared, as you shut the lid on an election while the corpse of our democracy was chopped up and its pieces scattered all over Ohio and other places. You showed us all that it’s only worth fighting if you’re sure you can win. If not, hey, what they hell, it’s the final score that matters, right? A short two months later Senator, were you not in the Middle East on a photo op when Senator Barbara Boxer joined several Democrats from the House in a challenge to the votes from the Electoral College? Oh, yes Senator, we can remember how much you cared:
Sen. John Kerry, who lost the election to Bush and is currently overseas, said in a letter sent to supporters Wednesday he would not take part in a formal protest of the Ohio Electors because, despite widespread reports of voting irregularities, his legal team had “found no evidence that would change the outcome of the election."
Oh, your anguish was palpable Senator, as you disappeared and sent us more emails and letters, drilling for more contributions, even as people’s champions like Representative Conyers were actually raising the alarm about yet another Republican subversion of the ballot box:
"We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election,” said a report issued Wednesday by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Even so, the effort seems certain to leave Bush’s victory intact because both Republican-run chambers would have to uphold the challenge for Ohio’s votes to be invalidated.
Underscoring that the outcome was not in doubt, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who conceded to Bush the day after the Nov. 2 election, said he would not join the challenge. Instead, he was in the Middle East, thanking U.S. troops for their service.
In a statement, Kerry said there are “very troubling questions” about the Ohio voting and said he will present a plan later to improve voting procedures.
Oh yes, another plan, and no doubt more fundraising to help pay for you to travel around the country and reassure us once again that you and Teresa cared deeply about your fellow citizens being treated the same way peons are treated in a banana republic. Where is that plan, Senator? I mean a real one ... will it be drawn up and fought for by the same crack squad you promised would “protect the vote” in 2004?
Which way is the wind blowing Senator, as your carefully coifed hair blows in commencement breezes. Which way will tomorrow’s coin flip fall, will it be “heads, I fight” or “tails, I run and hide” as it has been for decades now? Oh yes, you care, the way you cared about voting to send American troops to die in a criminal war before you cared enough to vote against it?
Oh yes, Senator, thank you for standing up in front of that class of young people who will be paying for the mistakes of the last six years for the rest of their lives and telling them how much you appreciated them. Thank you for all that you and the other Vichy Dems in Washington have done to make it safe for capital to move freely about the globe, for how you and the other Democrats all decided to let the Iran/Contra criminals off the hook ... a sad and terrible betrayal especially from you, a young Senator who’d done such couragous work on the BCCI scandal. After all, you’d made your bones ... why keep stirring the pot.
So please, Senator, tell us again how you care. Maybe you can send it in an email, maybe with a little button on it. You know, one of those little buttons that says “Press Here to Contribute Now”.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Are They Going to Make it Retroactive?
angst, film noir, kung fu, gung ho, carpe diem, faux pas, Milwaukee, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, goulash, pizza, tycoon, zeitgeist, amuck, chow, kow tow, tea, futon, hari-kari, ramen, soy, sushi, tofu, gong, ketchup, boondocks, gingham, hula, tattoo, taboo, luau, alligator, cafeteria, comrade, cigar, renegade, savvy, tornado, tobacco, mosquito, vanilla, Florida, Las Vegas, bayou, chipmunk, moccasin, moose, pecan, totem, schadenfreude, pro bono, mea culpa, Boca Raton ...
Hmmmm, where to start? What are we so afraid of? People find ways to communicate. Many of the richest places in the world culturally are the ones built where trade routes met, places where cultures mixed and languages bumped into each other and melted and combined. This country has taken that historical truth and writ it large, on almost an entire continent. We are who we are because we’re nothing BUT an idea, an idea that people can find ways to make things work. To insist, once again, that the nation’s spirit is being sapped instead of enriched by the continuing waves of strivers is to deny our history, to deny WHY THIS COUNTRY EXISTS.
Once again, the fearful and ignorant will tear us apart by trying to lock something down. It is in openness and breathing fresh air that growth, change and LIFE are fostered.
If confronted by someone ranting about how “they” should speak english, make a point of pointing out every foreign word that comes out of the ugly American’s mouth.
If we want to find REAL solutions to our problems, we need to reconsider our trade policies. We need to make a real commitment to education. We need to TALK to each other, even if it’s in halting English and waving hands and clumsy translations. We need to make a commitment to see that we address poverty and healthcare here, and make sure we don’t export our corporate rapaciousness to our neighbors, shredding their economies and forcing desperate people to move in search of survival. We need to open up, recommit to talking and sharing and diplomacy and an open and egalitarian application of the rule of law. We need to remake ourselves, see the world through new eyes and to find new political leaders.
Personally, I’m starting a class in Chinese this summer. As they all-but own this country, I figure it’s a good idea to know your banker’s language. It’s a beautiful, fascinating culture, and even if I find it as difficult as everyone warns me it is, I feel sure that I will be enriched for the learning. I can’t use it, but I had German in high school. I found it made my use of English stronger. It broadened my appreciation of vocabulary and understanding of grammer. I’m hopeful that learning this new language will make the world anew for me by giving familiar things new names for me to use. Learn a new language in protest to this know nothingism. Talk to the hispanic grocer ... learn some of her words. Try to pronounce Tsing Tao properly when you order a bottle with your tempura ... ask the waiter to help you.
It’s a big, broad, beautiful world ... sing it’s praises in as many ways as you can.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Iraq, Soldiers and Sex
While waiting for the season finale of Saturday Night Live, I caught an episode of 48 Hours and the show was about a soldier who was murdered 2 days after coming back to the US from Iraq. The suspects were the 4 fellow soldiers from his unit that he was out with that evening, going out to a Hooters for dinner and a strip club afterwards. From the shows website:
At age 19, Richard Davis joined the military, following in his parent’s footsteps. After serving in Bosnia, Richard re-enlisted and found himself at the forefront of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Just two days after his return to the United States, Richard mysteriously vanished. What happened to him only came to light months later.
The end of the road appeared to be 2 of the soldiers that evening on trial for first degree murder and the other 2 later were tried for manslaughter and not reporting a crime, the Army didn’t even open an investigation for a month afterward as they listed Davis as AWOL despite his parents protests. There were diagnosis of PTSD amongst the soldiers and then toward the end of the program there were insinuations of the rape of an Iraqi woman. One of the soldiers denied the rape and said instead they had seen prostitutes and it was ‘common knowledge’.
My thoughts then turned to the subject of sex and our soldiers in Iraq. Our men have been there for 3 years now, stuck on long tours in a Muslim country where sex is not readily available. Where are the men dealing with sex? There are a percentage of female soldiers there but many of those women are married or dating soldiers already there and at home. I would think Iraqi women are particularly unavailable as any woman caught sleeping with the Occupying Army by the insurgents would be killed for collaboration and dishonor. I have read reports that Iraqi women are afraid to go anywhere alone for fear of rape but the inference was always that it was Iraqi men they were afraid of being raped by.
Since the soldiers mentioned prostitutes they must be there in small numbers but can you imagine prostitutes being tolerated by Muslims? Then, being curious I began to think about pregnancy and wondered if there would be a large group of soldier’s children like in Vietnam, only would this group be half Iraqi and half while/black/hispanic/asian? After 3 years there wouldn’t this all be happening for awhile now? I’ve seen absolutely no reporting about any of this yet it was not an unknown topic to the public in Vietnam. Also if there is sex and pregnancy does that mean there is abortion there as well? Is our government (via Halliburton et al) involved in all of this, supplying prostitutes, condoms, abortions etc.? If so it would be highly hypocritical of both Bush and the Fundies to be using public monies for this in Iraq while working to deny American citizens these very things. Any thoughts out there?