Saturday, November 22, 2008

JFK Remembered.

Forty-five years ago today John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We pause to remember his loss and his service to the country.

We also recommend The Dark Side of Camelot, by Seymour Hersh, for anyone who wants to get beneath the carefully-crafted public image and the decades of hero worship.

Let's just say that in JFK's Camelot, there was a new Guenevere every day for the king to play with, at least one, and booze, and lots and lots of medicine for the ups and downs, for sleeping and waking up, and for the president's chronic pain.

When it comes to partying and getting laid, Jack makes Teddy look like a boy scout.

But he didn't go nuclear against Cuba despite a chorus of hawkish advisors clamoring for a show of force, and Curtis LeMay shouting in his ear to take out Cuba - and why not China for good measure?

Kennedy did not succumb to the terrified, paranoid fantasies of a large section of the American population, and launch what we later found out would have likely been a nuclear holocaust.

For liberals, even a gun-toting one, keeping the finger away from the trigger is always the goal. War is Hell, and ought to be avoided, if possible, at all costs.

This sanity of mind, this fearless act of non-escalation in a moment of direst terror, is JFK's crowning achievement, his profile in courage, and the reason the GTL votes a qualified thumbs-up to the Kennedy presidency.

"You know, I get a migraine headache if I don't get a strange piece of ass every day." - JFK

Palin Brings The Funny.

This is pure gold. I don't think Stanley Kubrick in his prime could have produced a more absurd and surreal coda to Palin's reality-bending vice presidential candidacy.

I'm not sure which is more hilarious, the turkey-slaughter backdrop or Gov. Palin's moronic responses to the reporter's questions.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Worth Paying Attention To.

Ahhh. It's good to be back at the GTL HQ shack. The staff and I took a much-needed Bahamas vacation to replenish our psychic ammo reserves following the billion-dollar campaign season and election.

It's good to be back.

I know how worn out everyone is with politics right now so I'll be brief an let you get back to your soap opera or whatever you are using to replace the hustle and bustle of the Big Game.

Simply, today is the last day that the Original C-Minus Man has left to push unpopular pro-business regulations through the OMB and have the 60-day waiting period not bleed over into the Obama administration. Regulations enacted today will be harder for Big O to reverse.

I am not fully educated on these plans but I do know that the Family and Medical Leave Act is being amended according to the corporate wish list: a worker can still invoke the FMLA in order to take an unpaid leave. The change will be that he or she may not use accrued sick time to offset the loss of income resulting from the unpaid status of the leave.

This is asinine and unfair, but entirely keeping with industry's hostility to the FMLA. They fought against it tooth and nail during Clinton's administration, and this change will cause many people to hold off on a leave they may have been saving for. I have met people who "banked" their vacation or "PTO" hours in order to have a surgery, and used these hours to offset the loss of income.

To me this is an example of a worker who is motivated to work and, at the same time, not to starve. "What the hell," Bush says, "let her starve. I'm off to Crawford anyway."

By the way, the GTL feels that the FMLA is one of Bill Clinton's crowning achievements, second only to his honoring Monica's request that he not you-know-what in her mouth.

That's integrity!

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Things First. Weapons Of Mass Instruction. John McCain's Chance For Redemption. Ours Too.

With eight years of George W. Bush's failures as president and an avalanche of bad policies and ideas laid out for him like rows of gumdrops, President-Elect Obama is the country's Chief-kid-in-the-candy-store as he ponders his first moves as president.

So many wonderful choices! What to pick first?

The GTL has the following priorities in mind: stop the torture before you do anything else. Restore due process. First thing. It is not only the right thing to do, but it will earn Obama immeasurable gratitude and appreciation - love, even - not only here at home, but around the world.

Before he calls an energy summit to discuss new infrastructure, before he meets with military leaders plotting our next strategic moves in Afghanistan and Iraq, before he unveils new plans for a health care overhaul or new tax legislation, there is one and only one action the GTL believes he should take:

Close Abu Ghraib prison, Mr. President-Elect. Close Guantanamo Bay. Restore habeus corpus rights to every individual held in U.S. custody. Begin to undo the damage to our wounded national psyche and our ravaged reputation around the world. Undo the stain to our national identity that has brought new words into the lexicon of American conversation: water-boarding. Stress positions. Extreme rendition. Sexual humiliation. Fear techniques.

Close our prison camps and take down the horrible apparatus of secret detention programs.

If you ask me whether it's worth it to leave our ravaged constitutional protections unaddressed for some weeks while we bring to a halt the sadistic (and ineffective) torture techniques which we as a people have somehow allowed to thrive in secrecy over the past seven years, I say: we'll wait.

First things first.

Obama can prove that American values still exist, and still matter.

Obama should call upon John McCain to lead a campaign against torture as vigorous and far-reaching as possible, and McCain should take the olive branch and run with it. At seventy-two, with a fortune behind him in the hundreds of millions, McCain can rehabilitate his own scarred image whole at the same time showing America and the world our great ability to embrace change, our nimble capacity for dancing to new ideas quickly and with great zest for freedom. Then he can retire the hero many already believe him to be.

Now that we as a people have re-discovered our own most powerful weapons of mass instruction in the global war of ideas, we must share them now, in real time. It's time to begin exporting our best products - justice, equality, sanity.

Close Abu Ghraib.
Close Guantanamo Bay.
Let the water-boards dry.
Let our prisoners see the light of day, and give them due process in real courts.

Show the world our greatness. Show them what we are like when freed from mindless fear. Only then will we be the beacon of freedom we have always been to oppressed peoples everywhere. Only then will be the America the world knows, loves, and has been waiting with baited breath for for the past eight long years.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Win For The People. A Loss For California.

Today I am proud of my fellow Americans for their bravery, common sense, and willingness to look beyond the sleaze to elect the clearly more suitable candidate for president.

Barack Obama, the hopes and prayers of the Gun-Toting Liberal are with you!

In one day of record-breaking civic activity, the people of the U.S. have shown the world that the marvel and miracle of the American experiment survives. People are dancing in all corners of the globe (despite the fact that globes do not have corners). An era is over, finally. America is coming back to us, they are saying, backing away from the precipice of totalitarian, of military unilateralism. Becoming again a beacon of hope and possibility.

The era of paranoia, fear and psychological projection, born of right-wing demagoguery, whipped beyond the boiling point by the Al Qaeda attacks of nine eleven, and stoked by endless war, seems to be ending.

Today it feels like a whole new country. And there is a lot to be grateful for.

I am grateful that John McCain is going to do what old soldiers do, and just fade away. I am happy not to have to watch the spectacle of Cindy McCain, steeped in a benzodiazepene fog, clicking her talons against her bronzed and burnished exoskeleton while silently choking back her rage at her angry pipsqueak husband. The Obamas are far easier as a family to look at.

I am grateful that the taxpayers saw fit to give Sarah Palin a one-way ticket back home to Wasilla, where she can surround herself with the "real Americans" she finds so superior to the rest of us. Governor, you can go back to brawling with the other pit bulls down at that fancy hockey rink we bought you with taxpayer money!

Governor Palin can now re-focus her attention on finding a replacement for Senator Ted Stevens, a "real American" who is in "real bad trouble" and may be wearing some "real handcuffs" and sitting in a "real prison cell" soon.

But most of all I am grateful to the people for their return to sanity, to that uniquely American generosity of spirit, away from division and intolerance, toward calm and pragmatic politics. Obama has the power to inspire, and I have been swept up in his lofty rhetoric consistently. But more than that, I trust Obama to think with his head, feel with his heart, listen with his ears, and see with his eyes. I believe Obama is sincere about seeing what is real, living in reality, and fixing real problems in real time. Gone are the days when emissaries from the "reality-based community" were banished from the Oval Office.

Like so many of you, I am overcome with emotion when I think of the African-American journey through history, the justice and promise of our nation denied for so long which is revived today. Whatever happens from now forward, the consciousness of our country is changed forever. A black man has been elected president of the United States!

Sadly, there is a setback for civil rights, and that is the passage of Proposition 8 ending gay marriage in California. Those who can't see the common struggle for equality of all marginalized people will soon have to come to grips with the fact of gay rights are coming, like it or not.

More on this sad coda to a great day in the future. For now, it's time to relax, celebrate, breathe easy, and let the roiling waters calm.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 4, 2008. 6:15 AM (Update: 7:30 AM)

The GTL has discharged his civic duty. I voted this AM at 7:05 EDT. A cheerful and uplifting experience. Short lines, neighbors around me.

The optical scanning machine had failed and all the ballots were being stored in the locked portion of the machine itself until a replacement arrived. I was told they would be scanned in en masse shortly by the supervisor.

Several bored police officers sitting at tables or talking quietly with voters, no drama. A bustling bake sale by the kids in the school where the voting took place.

My hardest voting decision was whether or not to buy a donut (I didn't).

I will probably be in media blackout all day. Post comments on your voting experiences and we'll be back tomorrow.

Good luck, America. We love you.

See you on the other side.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Two Days. Poor, Neglected Joe College Student. The Big Lie.

I for one am insulted by the embarrassing Republican tactic of foisting "Joe the Plumber" on the American people along with his friends, Joe the (insert blue collar job title here), and Joe the (again, please).

Talk about Stockholm Syndrome; Republican leaders yell about Obama waging class war, while hiding behind a wall of their own willing and enthusiastic POWs.

Meanwhile, Joe College has been ill-treated by the Right.

After all, he is the Right's child as well as ours. Think for a minute about the Republican candidates' own families. Most have grown children. I have a hard time imagining Dick Cheney's or Elizabeth Dole's adult children installing boilers and building additions on homes.

So why the hostility to educated folks? To their children? To themselves?

Or is it all a massive con to hustle the working class, who would in reality be better served elsewhere, out of their votes?

You decide for yourself. I already have.

Today the GTL crew is grateful that Joe and Jane College can think for themselves. And we like what they're thinking.