Monday, January 23, 2006

Requiem for a FISA Dream (in the Key of C-Minus)

What laws CAN'T President Bush break in the name of national security, then? Can he ban peaceful dissent and protest in public? Invalidate Court rulings by fiat? Shut down "opposition" newspapers, in the event that a meaningful one actually existed? Can he send a hit squad to my house, or disappear me to a secret prison if he thinks I'm aiding terrorists by not agreeing with him?

By extension, does every executive-branch officer or employee then have these powers, based on his say-so?

And if I'm "with him or against him," and obviously not with him, as you my dear reader and friend can plainly see, should I be packing my toothbrush for Guantanamo, or worse?

What shall we wake to tomorrow, America? Marshall law? Mandatory shopping? Nuking Iran?

If we managed to preserve civil liberties in the face of ideological battle with the U.S.S.R. - a formidable enemy, to be sure - with the possibility of all-out nuclear war looming over our heads(remember when we had leaders who could actually correctly pronounce this word?), then why does the paranoid party think we can't do so now?

No, this isn't about national safety and security. This is sheer opportunism and a grab for power by a party historically known for such power-lust, sprinkled with salt for the wounds of Liberals by that beacon of integrity, Karl Rove.

It is small consolation that history will not look kindly on this administration.

If wartime powers include the right to supercede any and all laws, then we'd better make damn sure the person doing the superceding is of high moral character, has never been arrested, censured by the S.E.C., dumped stock based on insider information, evaded military service, relied on nepotism and insider connections to prop up a fundamentally incompetent track record in business, used his powers as governor and president to line his pockets, driven drunk, sniffed cocaine... um...

Uh oh.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fighting the Blue Funk (for God and Country)

Sorry no posts in a while, my friends.

Sometimes I have difficulty finding the will to blog (never mind the time) as the national political news is so often bleak and hope for the future so tenuous. The idea that young people in the US military are dying overseas, having taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, while their commander in chief back home treats that very document with utter contempt, as if it were “just a piece of paper,” is frankly enough to send me into a powerful deep blue funk.

What’s more galling is the large number of Americans who are willing to carry the President’s water for him, so to speak, to sling accusations at John Murtha, let’s say, and who are all too willing to allow the very institutions which have created this great country to be subverted and destroyed.

These people will tell you they hate and fear terrorists, but that is not the truth; their leaders have created thousands upon thousands of new terrorists all over the world, and they seem to like it just fine.

Given that each new revelation of official misconduct (dare I say “crime”?) only serves to anger them – but not at a president who spies on citizens in direct defiance of the law, nor at right-wing congressional leaders who cynically bargain away their constituents’ health and security for twenty pieces of silver, or a nice golfing trip - but at the same old bugaboos on the ever-disappearing Left: Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jane Fonda. John Murtha; the only conclusion a sane man can reach is this:

They don’t hate terrorists. They like terrorists because terrorists give them a place to attach their paranoia and fear. Who DO they hate then?

Liberals. While the blood and money flow out of our nation in rivers, they could care less. They are still fighting the War of the Blue Dress, as if they can bring the thousands of dead back to life by re-impeaching Bill Clinton.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sick.

Of course, one must fight the blue funk tooth and nail, as I’m doing now, because the enemies of freedom (real freedom, not Bush-brand Freedom ™) never rest and are counting on our collective ennui to continue to run roughshod over our freedoms of thought and action and the concepts of human rights, accountability, and democracy.

Al Gore gave an excellent speech the other day, not carried in the major media, and I found it both chilling – literally, as I was trembling all over after reading it - and rousing. Then again, what it roused me to do was to take a long hot bath and a glass of whiskey to calm down. So maybe it was a little TOO powerful.

The implications for the future are dire and we are most definitely in a state of constitutional crisis. The president has asserted his right to go above the law in times of war. But this war, you may remember, will never end and, in the president’s own admission, can never be “won.” So what is he actually claiming?

Quite simply, he is trying to re-make America in his own authoritarian image, and is claiming to be above the law, permanently, for ever and ever. That U.S. citizens no longer have rights, or recourse to the law, forever.

He and his close advisors are the very embodiment of audacity, calmly telling the courts, especially the Supreme Court, that they no longer have jurisdiction over cases involving suspected terrorists, and that cases from Guantanamo, Abu Graib, or any of the far worse secret prisons our tax dollars are now supporting, may no longer be heard. Telling Congress that they will not provide information on a whole host of secret programs that you and I are paying for. I hope that the Judiciary in particular sees beyond partisan politics and realizes that the president is a dangerous man, and that he is attempting to neuter them for all time. He is about to install Samuel Alito, a man who seems ready to geld himself and the Supreme Court in one fell swoop, so you be the judge.

One FISA judge apparently saw the future clearly, this writing on the wall, and has resigned.

The rest of us can’t be so resigned.

Fight for your country.

Fight the power.

Fight the blue funk.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pay, Pray, Play, and Obey: Will No One Defend Poor Tom DeLay?

Step right up, step right up!

Where, kind people, is the Right winger willing to come forward and fall on this grenade for a GOOD MAN, your spiritual leader and enforcer of all that is good in Congress…? Where is the good Christian ready to bust off a really delicious rationalization about why this man is not a common thief and hypocrite?

G’wan… I DARE YA!

Come on! The Gun-Toting Liberal dares ya!

(sound of crickets)

I can’t wait for the kool-aid to start flowing on this one. Anyone with a shred of objectivity and knowledge of Capitol Hill events over the past decade can see this man’s turpitude from a mile away. In fact, I hear that Tom Delay’s ego is the only man-made thing visible with the naked eye from space…

What’s the talking point going to be? That the weak, stupid, intellectually and morally bankrupt Liberals are also, simultaneously and incongruously, a well-oiled attack machine, an effective and powerful cohesive group with an overarching and unifying ideology against the Right?

For the “Liberal conspiracy” smear, should you choose to employ it, to have validity, the Libs would have to be everything the Right claims they are not.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Jesus Was A Republican?

"There is Zero Liberalism in either the Old or New Testament that is not used as a figure of evil. In fact the Bible defines conservatism and totally rejects and condemns Liberalism on nearly every page. "

Comment by I-RIGHT-I, January 4, 2006 @ 5:08 pm (copied from Comments section, www.Thinkprogress.org)


Who cares what someone's book says? All religions have some book that tells them what good is and what evil is and how to behave. Every religious person ooohs and aahhhs over some book and how you're not obeying it and they are, or whatever. Don't drop it, don't touch it, ooh, it's so holy... honestly.

This is America. I'm free. I'm not going to obey some damn book. I follow my conscience and the rule of law. In this great country that's enough. My religion is none of your damn business and don't wave yours around as if it meant you had morals or brains. It's just a book. How you behave is how I will judge you.

Screw your book. The first two-thirds of it (what Christians call the Old Testament and what Jews call The Holy Bible) is translated from the ancient Hebrew all wrong anyway. The Christians even rearranged the books to suit their motives. Want to read the real bible? Read the Jewish Publication Society bible. It's translated directly from the original ancient Hebrew, as Jesus himself read it and understood it, in the orginal order, by expert linguists who make understanding ancient languages their top priority. Christians decided what was in it then translated it accordingly to prove what they knew already.

In other words, the Christian translations are a fraud. Your priests and ministers know this but you've been indoctrinated and trained not to ask. Go ahead - ask a priest about the origins of the New Testament and the re-translation by Christians of the Old. They'll back me up.

There never was a Jesus. There was Y'shua - which translates to English as "Joshua." How did you arrive at "Jesus"? Go ask your scholars if you don't know, and shame on you for not knowing since you seem to think your book is the be all and end all of morality in the world. Never you mind that a billion Buddhists don't agree, or millions of Muslims, or thousands of Jews, to name but a few. In the meantime, just pay, pray, and obey. They didn't build the church for you to go inside and ask questions.

Using the bible to back up your assertions is a cheap, disingenuous, intellectually backward thing to do and you know it. What if I told you it's only gospel truth if it's in the Upanishads?

We don't need ancient books to follow the golden rule. We don't need religion, in fact, to get to God.

As far as politics go, it's the bottom of the barrel of intellectual life to assert that the book proves that "Republicans Are The Best!"

Was Martin Luther King not a Christian?
How about Jimmy Carter?

Christianity states that the poor and not the rich were Jesus' concern. How you get this perverse trickle-down, cruel, punishing supply-side Social Darwinist Saviour is beyond me.

And by the way, why is the Jesus on the cross in church completely free from body hair? Did Mary Magdalene splurge on an armpit wax for his "special day?" It has nothing to do with how this man lived or preached and entirely to do with the group's psychosexual unconscious hangups. I'm telling you: Jews in Judea were a hairy breed. Jesus had pubic hair, armpit hair, nostril hair... back hair too, most likey.

Go on and say it! JESUS HAD BACK HAIR!

Screw your book. Just behave yourself. This is America.

No "Accident" At All

Rare moments of truth on the Today show this morning.

As you know, thirteen miners were trapped over the weekend in a coal mine in West Virginia. Late last night their families were notified that twelve of them were alive and would be rescued. Three hours later they were told that this was untrue and that there was only one survivor.

This morning I watched as Matt Lauer interviewed the grown son of one of the dead miners. He reported that his father complained continually about routine safety violations in the mine, that literally hundreds of safety violations were cited in the last year or two, and that the mineworkers’ union was powerless to advocate for the basic necessities of its members.

This “accident” was no accident, people. The reason why the mining company did not address core safety issues is simple, and readily understandable to any first-semester MBA student: there was no financial incentive to do so.

The way large corporations operate is clear. If it is more profitable to pay fines than improve safety, then safety improvements never happen. The people that matter are the shareholders, not the consumers, employees or their orphaned children and widows. The rhetoric about the “family of employees” or the prayers the CEO sends to the hapless families of his dead workers are meaningless. The stock price and the market share are all that matter. The workers toil in the shadows.

Where were the regulatory agencies, the watchdogs we turn to when workers are placed in danger again and again, in clear violation of the law? Where were the union leaders, who once upon a time ushered in an age of wealth, safety, and middle-class prosperity through the power of collective bargaining? Where were the activists to stand up and remind the world that America does not treat its workers like animals, and that a robust share price on the commodities market is not an acceptable reason to disregard human life?

The answer is simple: they are gone.

Let’s talk about the nineteen-eighties, when the death sentences of these miners, it may be argued, began to be written. Ronald Reagan declared open war on labor unions, and turned our nation into a criminal state by refusing to enforce the labor protections established by international treaty as basic elements of human rights. Prior to that time, industry had experienced a heyday. Meaningful safety regulations were being enacted and unions were able to fight for the quality of life needs of workers, so that everyone prospered.

At about the same time, ideologically driven right-wing millionaire businessmen began the long campaign to take control of the federal government in order to destroy it (that campaign realized its fruition under our current president, a corrupt business insider who has identified himself time and time again as the spiritual child of Reagan). Their movement doesn't feel it is appropriate for the government to be in the business of helping or protecting people.

Look it up. Ask them yourself.

The pattern is now etched in stone: corporate interests and the need for ever-increasing profit rule the day. Screw the worker, the consumer, the law, the na├»ve and quaint concept of “human rights.” The rhetoric fed to the people for decades has been that “government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem.”

Well, government did not kill those miners. Corporate greed in the name of the shareholder and stock price above all other human considerations killed those miners.

Back to the interview between Matt Lauer and the dead miner’s son:

The son explained that every day he begged his father not to go back to the mine, but that he always did. He knew that a sword of Damocles hung over his head every moment he was in the mine. The man worked under tons of rock and earth for thirty years and knew full well the dangers he had to endure to wrest a living for himself and his family. He also knew that those dangers could have been reduced and that a decision had been made somewhere that they would not be.

He was killed five months before retirement, although in America today, it goes without saying that had he lived, his “retirement” was likely to be a dicey affair anyhow. You see, the same large corporations who disregarded safety rules as inconveniences that could be endured by paying modest fines for so long are now routinely withdrawing the good pensions and benefits that used to be a staple of American workers’ lives.

This is your legacy, America. You voted for it. Enjoy.