Saturday, July 31, 2004

A GOP Documentary Attacks Kerry on the War

The GOP is learning quickly. They just released their own documentary of Kerry's statements about Iraq during the primary campaign, which takes many of Kerry's quotes out of context in an attempt to portray him as having changed his position on the Iraq war for political expedient reasons. Click on the TV to view the documentary.

In all fairness, I do think Kerry made a mistake in trying to moderate his message regarding his support for the war during the primary. It didn't change any Democrats' opinions of him. We all knew where he stood, and where he still stands. Characterizing himself as anything other than a duped supporter of the war is disingenuous and never won him any support. All he did was leave himself open this sort of attack.

He should have anticipated this and refused to be baited. That said, we also know that Kerry didn't have a problem with taking the war to Iraq very aggressively. What he had a problem with - and which has been his consistent position since the begining of the war - is that Bush failed to explore the options and engage a real coalition to take on the task.

Kerry knows that we likely could have avoided war with a continuation of the inspections; Bush didn't want to. We likely could have inspired a coup in Iraq to depose Saddam; Bush didn't want to. We could have had the world at our backs, instead of on our necks, when we rolled into Iraq; Bush didn't want to. Bush's purposes weren't served except by an effectively unilateral military invasion leaving us, and our bulldog lapdogs, the British, as the pre-eminent military force in Iraq, in a position to install a proper puppet government to serve Bush's purposes. Nothing less would have served.

What Kerry failed to appreciate at the begining of the war is Bush's willingness to damage the national interest for political gain. Kerry assumed, as did so many, that Bush's purpose was to enhance American security. It wasn't. Kerry, like many others, was unable to concieve of an American President who simply lied to the American people about his strategic objectives in starting a war.

Kerry wanted to support the President because he assumed that the President's purpose was transparent, and his goals honorable. It was only after the President's motives were proven to be suspect, and it became clear that Bush was simply lying about his Administration's strategic objectives in Iraq, that Kerry began to criticize the "how" of the march to war.

He's right to do so. He's also probably right not to go any further than that. The tragic truth about our culture and our media is that peace candidates are seldom welcome in American politics. It is a more viable political strategy to express doubt about the personal veracity and honor of the President, and to critique the way in which the war was started to signal your sympathies, but to do nothing overt until after you are President. Then you are in a position to end the war, and there is little anyone can do to stop you. But if you try to fashion a case for political case for peace, our political system will almost certainly destroy you.

I certainly hope I'm right about Kerry's strategy. It would be sickening to see a Democrat who was sincerely in support of this obviously dishonorable war. That is precisely why Lieberman now disgusts so many; he seems to truly believe in a cause which is quite transparently not in the national interest. He seems intent on exploiting the political force of war even more enthusiastically than Bush. Kerry, on the other hand, seeks to reassure Americans that his will be a muscular and unstinting security policy, but he belies that message with an undertone which is deeply skeptical about the potential for the misuse of America's great power.

Is Kerry's security policy nuanced? Yes. Can that be interpreted as being on both sides of the issue? Perhaps. But you really have to work at it. Characterizing Kerry as inconsistent on this issue takes work and selective reading of his statements. The GOP's critique is well fashioned, because in a sense it is true. Kerry is ambivalent about this war. He is right to be. Many of us are. Many people are exactly in Kerry's position. He is an honorable man and a patriot. He wants to help defend the vital national interests of the nation. But when there is a President in office who is absolutely contemptuous of the national interest, completely incompetent in his judgments, and absolutely devoted to pursuing his political agenda at the cost of the nation's treasure, reputation, highest ideals, and even the lives of its soldiers, how does one follow the path of patriotism? The patriot has to step with utmost caution and do some fancy footwork to stay on the path of honor. Opposing an unfit and dishonorable President, and all his works, while upholding the national interest, the nation's honor, and above all, standing firm for the citizens who are giving their lives for this President's lies is a subtle dance, indeed. It should not surprise us that John Kerry's positions on the war are nuanced. What impresses me is that he can express his principles as clearly as he does.

I am not an appologist for John Kerry's security policy. I am opposed root and branch to this war. But I do admire his determination to do what is right in such difficult circumstances. A lesser man would be tempted to out-jingo the jingoist (see Lieberman). But I believe, and I trust that the young man who saw the human cost which war exacts from friend and foe alike still lives and breathes inside John Kerry. If that man does still exist, help is, indeed, on the way.

Lieutenant Kerry's Senate Testimony

Every bit as resonant and painful as it was 33 years ago when he first spoke these words, John Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foriegn Relations Committee could be coming out of the mouth of a Reservist now serving in Iraq. I hope these words are still in John Kerry’s heart. I hope this young man, who expressed such outrage over the convenient excuses of statecraft, still lives in John Kerry.

Certainly, his policy stance on Iraq and his party plaform do not reflect the very real parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. Tragically, they are all too present. The same hubris, and the same hatred, and the same fear of failure propell the criminal war in Iraq forward, as they once propelled a decade of madness in Vietnam. It gives me hope and comfort that even if Kerry cannot own these words right now, when they so badly need to be said, he was the man who once said them.

Several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. Not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with a full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It's impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit. The emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. But they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We called this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term ‘winter soldier’ is a play on words of Thomas Paine's in 1776 when he spoke of the "sunshine patriot and summertime soldiers" who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough. We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now.

We could come back to this country and we could be quiet. We could hold our silence. We could not tell what went on in Vietnam. But we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, not red coats, but the crimes which we are committing are what threaten it, and we have to speak out.

I would like to talk to you a little bit about what the result is of the feelings these men carry with them after coming back from Vietnam. The country doesn't know it yet, but it's created a monster. A monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history. Men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped.

As a veteran and one who feels this anger, I would like it talk about it. We are angry because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country. In 1970, at West Point, Vice President Agnew said, "Some glamorize the criminal misfits of society while our best men die in Asian rice paddies to preserve the freedoms which those misfits abuse. And this was used as a rallying point for our effort in Vietnam. But for us, his boys in Asia, whom the country was supposed to support, his statement as a terrible distortion from which we can only draw a very deep sense of revulsion and hence the anger of some of the men who are here in Washington today.

It's a distortion because we in no way considered ourselves the best men of this country. Because those he calls misfits were standing up for us in a way that nobody else in this country dared to. Because so many who have died would have returned to this country to join the misfits in their efforts to ask for an immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam. Because so many of those best men have returned as quadriplegics and amputees and they lie forgotten, in Veterans' Administration hospitals in this country, which fly the flag, which so many have chosen as their own personal symbol. And we cannot consider ourselves America's best men when we were ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia.

In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen, that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos, but linking such loss to the preservation of freedom which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy. And it's that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart. We are probably much more angry than that, and I don't want to go into the foreign policy aspects because I am outclassed here.

I know that all of you have talked about every possible – every possible alternative to getting out of Vietnam. We understand that. We know that you've considered the seriousness of the aspects to the utmost level and I'm not going to try and deal on that. But I want to relate to you the feeling which many of the men who have returned to this country express. Because we are probably angriest about all that we were told about Vietnam and about the mystical war against communism.

We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese, whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image, were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from. We found that most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm, burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace. And they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese, or American.

We found also that all too often, American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how monies from American taxes was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs, as well as by search-and-destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism. Yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong.

We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers that hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum. We learned the meaning of free-fire zones. Shoot anything that moves. And we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals. We watched the United States falsification of body counts. In fact, the glorification of body counts. We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against ‘oriental human beings’ with quotation marks around that. We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in a European theater or let us say a non-third-world-people theater.

And so, we watched while men charged up hills because a general said that hill has to be taken, and after losing one platoon or two platoons, they marched away to leave the hill for the reoccupation of the North Vietnamese. Because – because we watched pride allow the most unimportant of battles to be blown into extravaganzas because we couldn't lose and we couldn't retreat and because it didn't matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point. And so there were "Hamburger Hills" and "Khe Sanhs" and "Hill 881's" and "Fire Base 6s" and so many others. And now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.

Each day–(applause) [Chairman: I hope you won't interrupt, he's making a very significant statement. Let him proceed.] Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam, someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows. So that we can't say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words, "the first President to lose a war." We are asking Americans to think about that.

Because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? But we are trying to do that. And we are doing it with thousands of rationalizations and if you read carefully the President's last speech to the people of this country, you can see that he says and says clearly that "The issue, gentlemen, the issue is communism." And the question is whether or not we will leave that country to the communists or whether or not we will try to give it hope to be a free people. But the point is, they aren't a free people now under us. They are not a free people. And we cannot fight communism all over the world and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.

But the problem of veterans goes beyond this personal problem. Because you think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says "I Want You." And a young man comes out of high school and says "That's fine. I'm going to serve my country." And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job, or maybe he doesn't kill. Maybe he just goes and he comes back. And when he gets become to this country, he finds that he isn't really wanted.

Because the largest unemployment figure here in the country, it varies depending on who you get it from, the Veterans' Administration 15%, various other sources 22%, but the largest figure of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war. And of those veterans, 33% of the unemployed are black. That means one out of every 10 of the nation's unemployed is a veteran of Vietnam.

The hospitals across the country won't or can't meet their demands. It's not a question of not trying. They haven't got the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California. Not because of the operation but there weren't enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.

Another young man just died in a New York V.A. Hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him. But he couldn't. They rang a bell and there was no one there to service that man. And so he died of convulsions.

57%, I understand, 57% of all those entering V.A. Hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27% have tried. They try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn't really care. Suddenly we are faced with a very sickening situation in this country because there's no moral indignation. And if there is, it comes from people who are almost exhausted by their past indignancies and I know that many of them are sitting in front of me.

The country has seemed to have lain down and accepted something as serious as Laos just as we calmly shrugged off the loss of 700,000 lives in Pakistan, the so-called greatest disaster of all times. We are here as veterans to say that we think we are in the midst of the greatest disaster of all times now. Because they are still dying over there. And not just Americans, Vietnamese. And we are rationalizing leaving that country so that those people can go on killing each other for years to come. Americans seem to have accepted the idea that the war is winding down, at least for Americans. And they have also allowed the bodies which were once used by a President for statistics to prove that we were winning this war to be used as evidence against a man who followed orders and who interpreted those orders no differently than hundreds of other men in South Vietnam.

We veterans can only look with amazement on the fact that this country has not been able to see that there's absolutely no difference between a ground troop and a helicopter crew. And yet, people have accepted a differentiation fed them by the administration. No ground troops are in Laos, so it's already to kill Laotians by remote control. But believe me, the helicopter crews fill the same body bags and they wreak the same kind of damage on the Vietnamese and Laotian country side as anyone else. The President is talking about allowing that to go on for many years to come. And one can only ask if we will really be satisfied when the troops march into Hanoi.

We are asking here in Washington for some action. Action from Congress of the United States of America which has the power to raise and maintain armies and which by the Constitution also has the power to declare war. We have come here, not to the President because we believe that this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and we believe that the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.

We are here in Washington also to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy, it's part and parcel of everything that we are trying as human beings to communicate to people in this country. The question of racism which is rampant in the military. And so many other questions also. The use of weapons, the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage in the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for continuation of this war when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions. In the use of free-fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search-and-destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, the killing of prisoners, accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam. That's what we are trying to say. It’s part and parcel of everything.

An American Indian friend of mine who lives on the Indian nation of Alcatraz put it to me very succinctly. He told me how as a boy on the Indian reservation he watched television and he used to cheer the cowboys when they came in and shot the Indians. And then suddenly, one day, he stopped in Vietnam and he said my God, I'm doing to these people the very same thing that was done to my people. And he stopped. And that's what we are trying to say. That we think this thing has to end.

We are also here to ask – we are here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently: Where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We are here to ask: Where are McNamara, Bundy, Kilpatrick and so many others? Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned?

These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded. The Marines say they never leave even their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They have left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country.

Finally, this administration has done us the ultimate dishonor. They have attempted to disown us and the sacrifices we made for this country. In their blindness and fear, they have tried to deny that we are veterans or that we served in ‘Nam. We do not need their testimony. Our own scars and stumps of limbs are witness enough for others and for ourselves, we wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service. As easily as this administration has wiped their memories of us.

But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission. To search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war. To pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and fear that have driven this country the last 10 years and more. And so when 30 years from now our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why? We will be able to say "Vietnam." And not mean a desert, not a filthy, obscene memory, but mean, instead, the place where America finally turned, and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning. Thank you.


AZDems Candidates Shop has Teresa! merchandise now. Stop in and pick up a button, bumpersticker, or other item to show your support for Teresa Heinz-Kerry. The next First Lady is going to be as big, if not a bigger issue in the Right's culture war as Hillary ever was. Teresa is intellectual, irrascable, wealthy, independant, and multi-cultural and a devoted and successful wife and mother to boot. If you don't know much about her, you can learn more in this article.

She makes Laura Bush look like the sheltered little damslefly she is. It really says something that Laura Bush is considered the intellectual light of the current White House. Now, I have great respect for librarians, and I'm sure that Laura is much smarter than her man, but Laura is just not a very admirable person. I'm sure she has her good qualities, but, hey, look who she married. I can only conclude that the woman has no moral center, or she's simply blinded by love of a highly unworthy man of very limited gifts. More's the pity.

Teresa, other the other hand, doesn't suffer fools gladly, let alone marry them. Which means she'll be tearing the moronic pols of the Right new ones on a regular basis. She will be certainly be the bete-noir of the Kerry Administration and I say, "you go, girl!" Get used to defending her now, 'cause you'll be doing plenty of it for the next 8 years. I dare say we'll all come to enjoy the sport, too. If you adore Hillary for the tweaking she's given the nose of her enemies over the years, just wait until you she Teresa swing into action.

FBI Leaked Terror Warnings to Disrupt Democratic Convention

The Village Voice reports the Boston field office of the FBI leaked unspecified warnings of attacks on journalists during the Convention in an attempt to disrupt coverage of the event.

Combined with the GOP's 'Compassion Across America' program, and Bush's lauch of a 21 state tour on the last day of the Convention, both of which violate the traditional gentlemen's agreement not to step on each others Conventions, the signal is very clear. The gloves are off and the fight for the country has begun.

I just have one response: Bring it on.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Nancy Reagan to Bush: 'We Don't Support Your Re-Election'

Nancy Reagan does not want Bush re-elected, or for the GOP to use any images or words of the later Ronald Reagan at the upcoming GOP convention. Splitting with Bush over stem-cell research and what Ron Reagan terms the Republican Party's "cringing obeisance to the religious right," the whole Reagan family is essentially repudiating where Bush has taken the party that Reagan did so much to rebuild (better had he left it a moribund pack of misfits, IMO).

Addendum 18:08PM: Take this story with a grain of salt. I am having more than a little doubt as to the sourcing and veracity of this story.

Addendum 18:59PM: There is at least a grain of truth behind the story. Ron Reagan excoriates Bush's dishonesty and dishonor in an article in the latest Esquire,

Addendum 8/5/04: So the old scarecrow didn't grow a conscience after all. Nancy Reagan gave her endorsement to Bush in response to the persistent internet rumours that she had refused to support the Resident. One has to wonder if she would have just kept her mouth shut and left her admirers in doubt had she not been pushed. Just another reason why rumour mongering (which, apparently I have just abetted) is a self-defeating proposition.

Kerry/Edwards Campaigning in Arizona Soon

The Democratic presidential team of John Kerry and John Edwards will be in Arizona Aug. 7th and 8th making stops at the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and other locations in the northern part of the state.

The Kerry-Edwards visit is part of national campaign tour aimed at boosting support in battleground states like Arizona after this week's Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Kerry and Edwards also are scheduled to make appearances in Kingman, Winslow and Williams before heading to Nevada and Oregon as part of the national post-convention tour.

Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to be in Tucson Saturday for a campaign rally at Republican headquarters, where a counter-protest by Democrats is planned.

Kerry's visit to the Grand Canyon is expected to focus on Bush administration policies related to the environment and national parks. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters are critical of Bush policies, saying they favor businesses and industry.

The Kerry stop in Northern Arizona will also focus on Democratic congressional challenger Paul Babbitt, who is looking to unseat business-backed carpetbagger, Republican Congressman Rick Renzi, in rural Arizona's congressional district one.

Arizona Democrats are energized by the party convention in Boston and hope to bring that energy back to the state, which is considered a battleground in this year's presidential tilt.

Recent polls show the Arizona race either tied or President George W. Bush with a varying lead. Bush carried Arizona in the 2000 race by 6 percentage points, but Democrat Janet Napolitano won the 2002 governor's race narrowly over the GOP's Matt Salmon.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

How to Build a More Brittle Party

One of the worst things about the growing fascism of the Republican Party is that many Democrats have come to believe that to match the GOP’s seeming unanimity, we must eliminate dissent and diversity from our own ranks. Examples of this impulse have emerged during this Convention, and the result is discouraging.

Though the party platform is a withered appendage of the Convention process, largely by-passed by the personal agenda and credibility of the Presidential candidate, it remains an important symbolic gesture. It is estimated that as many as 95% of the delegates at the Convention are opposed to war, in favor of either immediate withdrawal, or setting a schedule for withdrawal. Yet the Democratic Platform plank on Iraq calls for a continuation, even a deepening, of our commitment in Iraq, pledging to "win the peace" and bring about a stable and peaceful (though thankfully not a 'democratic') Iraq. When the platform came up for final floor debate yesterday evening, Bill Richardson gaveled any debate to a close, despite most of the hundred or so candidates remaining on the floor expressing a desire for further debate. It is disturbing that the Convention Chairman would deem the rights of delegates so worthless. Mr Richardson just stepped off the gangplank of my esteem.

The atrophy of the American political process is one of the tragedies of the modern times. No single candidate is really responsible. The ever-present demand to streamline the political process, and to make it more efficient, is a response to the demands of campaigning in the modern era. Big money, the acceleration of the primary process, and the role of expensive media in politics, are all partially responsible for the decline. These factors have left us with a denatured, weak, deracinated, and increasing exclusionary, political process; one which cannot tolerate or withstand serious debate, nor accommodate enduring differences within a party, yet offers dissidents no where else to go.

The need to offer an ever more seamless, uncontradicted version of reality to voters is turning our parties into cults of personality, instead of tools of compromise and accommodation. That would not be so insidious were America’s electoral system not designed to foster and reinforce two major coalitional parties, offering dissenters nowhere to go but into the electoral limbo of ineffectual, practically irrelevant, third parties. The only real political clout of third parties comes from their potential to act as spoilers to the major party its members most sympathize with. The result is a brutal irony; dissent comes to help the dissenter’s natural political enemies. This is not the behavior of a healthy political system; rather, it is a symptom of a grave and debilitating political disease. A voter should not have to calculate the likelihood that voting in accord with her conscience will bring to power the political philosophy she most despises.

America has become too diverse a nation for just two political parties. What once was a unifying strength, is now a travesty. The brutal illogic of the two-party system has tricked rural people and people of faith into a self-destructive alliance within the GOP with the wealthy and corporations who are steadily devouring their own allies and covering the carnage with a cynical kulturekampf. A genuine Conservative party would awaken these constituencies to their true interests in no time. Instead, they remain blissfully unconcerned about the true intent of the GOP's succubus-like embrace. Democrats are only somewhat better, however. Similar treatment is being given to some portions of the Democratic constituency, but there is little they can do about it, if they even realize their betrayal.

At the Democratic Convention, major figures in the Democratic party such as Rep. Maxine Waters and Senator Russ Feingold, were denied speaking slots because they were not considered reliable in hewing to the Kerry line on important policy matters. No sour notes and no contradictions can be allowed within the Party’s public image during these critical days when so many undecided voters will be getting their first taste of Kerry and Edwards. No disturbing ‘radical’ views, no harsh criticism of the current Administration, no views too at odds with the current ‘status quo’ should be allowed to disturb the complacency of voters. This way lies stagnation. This way lies political irrelevancy. Even if this way lies election, what does it afford us if the Democratic Party comes to stand for nothing except the getting and keeping of power?

What cost, this artificial unanimity? In many ways allowing the presumptive nominee to script and shape the Convention to his needs weakens the party. Kerry’s message is carefully tailored to appeal to centrist, undecided voters. Kerry seeks to assure centrist voters that he can finish what Bush started through superior leadership, avoiding assiduously any suggestion that Iraq is hopeless and already lost. What of the many millions in the Democratic base who need reassurance that Kerry is open their view that Iraq is a tragic boondoggle? What of the hundreds of thousands contemplating a vote for Nader because Kerry seems uncompromising and unconcerned about their issues? We may be steering for a cliff to avoid a stone in the road.

Nearly every party member wants to defeat Bush. Every one of those is willing to make sacrifices to accomplish Bush's downfall. But if the Democratic Party gives up it’s mantle as the remaining democratic party to accomplish that, qui bono?

Addendum: Not only has there been an intolerance of any dissent at the Convention, but trying to express a contrary viewpoint could get you arrested. Just ask Medea Benjamin of Code Pink who was arrested and dragged off the floor for having the temerity to unfurl an anti-war sign.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Terrorists infiltrating America through Canada as strippers

Judging by this story, immigration officials either believe the terrorists are disgusing themselves as strippers (except for under their clothes), or they are a bunch of perverts looking for a cheap thrill. Amazing what can be justified in the name of combatting terror...

Sunday, July 25, 2004

11 Unanswered, Unasked Questions about 9/11

One has to wonder, now that the 9/11 report essentially releases every state actor from responsibility for 9/11, why weren't the obvious leads to Pakistan and the ISI followed up? Why, given all the information in the public domain that Al Qaida had disturbingly close ties to Pakistan's nuclear establishment, which became a veritable nuclear bazaar to the world, is the Bush Administration not even investigating these matters? Why is Pakistan our close ally in the war on terror, when by all objective measures, they should have been in line for a taste of Bush's doctrine of preemption long before Iraq. Pakistan poses a great and gathering threat both in terms of the export and support of international terrorism and their proliferation of WMD, not to mention the very real threat that they could put, or let fall, a nuclear weapon into the hands of Islamic radicals who might actually use it against us. As you can see, there are nothing but unanswered questions about Pakistan. 11 of them, in fact.

Dean: Terrorism and Elections

John Dean takes a sobering look at the potential for terrorism to disrupt the political process. Perhaps we ought to look at making contingency plans after all.

ISI and CIA: Unindicted Co-Conspirators in 9/11?

Michael Meacher, Labour MP exposes the threads cut by American and Pakistani state secrecy that lead back to Pakistan's intelligence service (ISI) and the CIA from the 9/11 hijackers.

Sibel Edmonds, the government translator gagged by court order to prevent her divulging damning evidence said, "My translations of the 9/11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date-specific information ... if they were to do real investigations, we would see several significant high-level criminal prosecutions in this country [the US] ... and believe me, they will do everything to cover this up." The 9/11 report stands indicted. It may be the biggest white wash in the history of American government.

It seems that we can no longer expect our government to ever tell the people the truth, even about something as critical and momentous as 9/11. That means just one thing: there is no longer any semblence of democracy in America. We are now living in the world's first a shamocracy. A land in which everyone thinks there is a democracy, but it is only a well-designed artifice designed to trick the viewer into seeing what is not there, and not seeing anything which is.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Veterans for Kerry Rally: Rassmann Saves the Day

From the field:

I just came from a Veterans for Kerry Rally with Jim Rassmann. The Bushmen had a protest planned and ready. They came and parked up the parking lot so that Kerry supporters would not be able to attend the rally. Then they blocked the drive way and accosted people as they came in and out of the parking lot. This is unacceptable, and we should not let them get away with it, nor should we not reply in kind. We, however, must be more civil.

On the 5th, I called for a counter rally to the Vets for Bush Rally held on 22nd Street. I had no takers. We were too civil. We must not let opportunities like this to pass again. However, I had planned to have our demonstration across the street from their rally on the Public Right of Way. The Bush people held their counter rally amongst our rally.

I have deep respect for what Mr. Rassmann did in response. He allowed the Vets for Bush into the event and let them ask questions. He responded to their questions and explained why he, a Republican, has voted for Carter, Clinton and Gore and will vote for Kerry. It was a good rally, and Mr. Rassmann's civility set the tone, so that even the Vets for Bush were civil with their questions. They tried to score points, but Mr. Rassmann gave no ground. I commended him for holding the rally as he did, that people of divergent opinions can come together to discuss their divergence in a civil manner, which is the kind of country that John Kerry is fighting for. Even the Bush supporters had to applaud. It is more than they would do accommodate those that differ from them.

So, LET'S GO!!!! GO KERRY-EDWARDS!!!! and the rest of the Democratic Ticket!!

Jim Rassmann was the Green Beret that Kerry went back for after he had been blown out of Kerry's boat during a fire fight.

Grijalva to nominate Edwards DNC Convention

C.J. Karamargin reported today the announcement that Representative Raul Grijalva will be the second Arizona politician given the nod to address the convention. Grijalva will have the honor of nominating the Vice Presidential nominee, John Edwards.

Clearly this development is a reflection of how important Pima County is to this year's Presidential election, and how important Rep. Grijalva's network of volunteers will be in delivering the vote and a high turn-out. Even though Grijalva was a Dean supporter right up to the Arizona primary, Kerry's camp realize how dependent upon Grijalva they are in Southern Arizona.

Nor does it hurt that former Grijalva chief of staff, Ana Ma, is heading the Democratic Party's coordinated campaign in Arizona. Not only are Democratic hopes in CD 1, and maybe 8, riding on Ma's shoulders, but so are Governor Napolitano's hopes for a state legislature she can work with. The best way to acknowledge Ms. Ma's contribution is to honor her old boss.

Finally, it will be a treat for Arizona Democrats to see some of their favorite politicians featured prominently in the Democratic Convention. Convention planners are hoping that it will help to drive up turn-out in Arizona this November. Besides, with Senator McCain being featured prominently at the GOP convention, we Democrats have to have at least two featured Arizona speakers.

All in all, I prefer this schedule, or this one, for the GOP convention, rather than the pack of progressive and liberal Republicans the GOP was shoving to the front of the mob for the convention. Fortunately, the GOP has recently decided to put a few more of their more conservative faces up front at this insistence of conservatives. I just can't wait to see how many voters Rick Santorum can manage to alienate in a single nationally broadcast speech. He did wonderful things for Democrats with his last bit of national exposure wherein he likened homosexuality to having sex with dogs. What will it be this time, I wonder?

DeLayed Decision

The House Ethics committee refused to dismiss Rep. Chris Bell's ethics allegations against Majority Whip Tom DeLay today. The inquiry is being extended for up to 45 days.

For more background on the case, go to the DCCC.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-partisan watchdog group, have called for an independent prosecutor to assigned to the DeLay case. You can read more about that effort and read the ethics complaint of Rep. Chris Bell at their website.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Intel: A New Progressive Majority

Kevin Phillips explains how Kerry can win by splitting off the Buchanan-Perot-McCain populist progressive section of the GOP 'base'. Trianglulating for an ever shrinking Independent voter will only result in another very narrowly divided election, presenting the GOP with plenty of opportunities for electoral mischief.

Progressive GOP voters who voted for conservative progressives in prior cycles are skeptical of Bush and the current goals of their party. Kerry should use the same strong positions on campaign and election reform: opposition to the religious right, distaste for Washington lobbyists, opposition to upper-bracket tax biases and runaway deficits, and criticism of corporations and CEOs. Using these issues would make a strong appeal to middle-class GOP voters who are sick of Bush, as they did when used by third-party and insurgent GOP candidates in prior cycles. Best of all, these issues address issues important to the left of the Democratic party, which is wary of his centrism.

These issues have always been a part of the 'petit-bourgoisie' faction of the GOP base. Recall that is was small businessmen, professionals, and farmers who led the Progressive movement of the last century and provided much of the ideas and energy which culminated in the Roosevelt's coalition and the New Deal. The current environment of concetrated markets, corporate and electoral corruption, and the greatest disparities in income and wealth distribution since the Guilded Age of Robber Barrons, provides an environment ripe for the Progressive movement to rise again.

To win decisively and form the basis of a new majority coalition, Kerry must enter into class warfare. The GOP charge that Democrats are conducting class warfare at the drop of a hat precisely because they wish to scare a skittish Kerry away from these issues. Class warfare should be embraced and cultivated by the Kerry campaign, not run from.

Kerry is certainly aware of the progressive option, given news of his flirtation with a Kerry-McCain fusion ticket. That choice, had it been consumated, would have certainly handed Kerry the Presidency by a fat margin. Edwards' populist appeal is a good second choice, but he'll have to work much harder to break off a hunk of the GOP base with this ticket. Kerry will need to step away from default position of balancing or vassilating between a Clintonian triangulation, and the more populist message and demeanor he used to battle Dean in Iowa if he wants to do anything more than squeak into office.

If Kerry comes out of the Convention swinging hard on progressive issues with his running mate, they could pull off a 55-60% popular vote margin, breaking off a 10-15% section of the progressive GOP base (estimated at 25% of the GOP base overall), and establishing the basis for Democratic control for the next 16 year cycle.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Editor's Picks 7/22

Malpractice Scam: The Administration continues to advocate medical malpractice claims caps, despite the fact there is no link between malpractice awards and the cost of premiums to doctors. This disingenuous policy initiative is solely to enhance the profitability of malpractice insurance companies at the expense of the people most seriously in need.

Right-Wing Renzi: Rick Renzi, the Republican encumbent in Arizona's District 1 being challenged by Democrat Bruce Babbitt, whoed his true colors by voting to end U.S. financial support of the UN. Next thing you know, Renzi will voting to study the black helicopters.

Sudan Petition: The DCCC is finally putting some weight behind the Congessional Black Caucus's drive to get the Sudan genocide to the center of American foriegn policy. Sign the petition today.

Billionaires for Bush: A wickedly delicious and humourous protest group, Billionares for Bush, bring fresh wit and street-theater with a very effective rhetorical framing to the campaign to defeat Bush. Watch as they greet Karl Rove at a GOP event and join today.

The Haiti Coup: Evidence has been brought to light that the coup against democratically elected Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide was fomented by a network of rightwing Republicans led by personnel from the federally-funded International Republican Institute. Though it comes as no surprise that American fascists are behind the coup, the trail is finally tracable to near the governement.

Filibustering the Filibuster: Following the successful filibuster of Bush's latest activist judicial nomination, Speaker Frist seems prepared to change the Senate rules to prevent the use of the filibuster against Presidential nominations. Sentate Democrats have vowed that the political equivalent of nuclear war will occur if the GOP tries to change 130 years of parlementary precedent used by both parties to block distasteful nominees. Will Frist light the fuse before a contentious election? Next up for Bush's string of unconscionable judicial nominations: William Haynes who played a key role in drafting Defense Department memos justifying the detainment of enemy combatants and setting policy on the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Is this the sort of person we want on the bench for life?

Bush's Shrinking Base: Military reservists and their families constitute an important potential swing vote this cycle. Millions of these traditionally heavily Republican voters may be up for grabs as Bush's 'stop-loss' orders and policies regarding reserve benefits alienate many. The overlooked swing demographic this cycle may not be Soccer Moms or NASCAR dads, but Reservist's Wives.

Outsourcing Counter-Terrorism: The arrest and trial of Jonathan Idema, an American, in Afghanistan on charges of holding and torturing Afghanis in a private prison may be the tip of the iceberg in the outsourcing of the unsavory business of counter terror operations. Jonathan Idema claims that he was funded and directed by Donald Rumsfeld's office and has the evidence to prove it. Given that the interrogation, and possibly the torture, of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was outsourced to private companies, Idema's allegation is credible.

Bring the Wall Down: The UN General Assembly voted 150 to 6 with 10 abstentions to demand that Israel comply with the ICJ recent ruling that the 'security fence' is illegal and must come down. The United States and Israel were the only major nations to vote against the resolution. Israel has already indicated that it does not intend to comply. Look for a new article on the strategic enviroment shaping Israel's choices regarding the wall here soon.

Commentary: Linda Ronstadt, Fascist Target

Given Linda Ronstadt’s close family ties to Tucson (her family has been in Tucson for several generations, and Linda lives here with her two adopted children) it is not surprising that over 200 people wrote to the local newspaper about the recent incident at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, in which Linda praised and thanked Michael Moore for what he has done for the political debate in this country. What is surprising are the content of those opinions. Before that though, let’s take a closer look at the incident.

She was dedicating her final song, "Desperado" to Mr. Moore, when some in the crowd got angry; one person apparently threw their drink at a concert poster, and some ripped down Linda’s concert posters as they left the venue. An unspecified number of people requested refunds, whether this was due to Linda’s comments, or because of the disruption of the end of the concert isn’t clear.

Most reports, taken from the AP wire report and apparently based upon the statement of Sarah Gorgon, Aladdin’s spokesperson, say that of an audience of about 4,500 people, perhaps a quarter walked out. Aladdin's PR department now says about half walked out and that Linda was asked to leave "to diffuse the situation." The Guardian, with plenty of time for fact checking, indicates only dozens walked out of an audience of 1,300. There is no clear picture of how much mayhem there really was. Early AP stories are unspecific as to the number of ‘protesters’. I'm inclined to trust the number closest to the event, but also to suspect that the number of walk-out during the performance was much less than is now indicated.

Beyond some boos, Linda says she was not aware that there was any more reaction than is normal for her controversial dedications, and a newscaster in attendance at the concert was not even aware that there was any controversy at all. One would think that a newscaster with a nose for news would have noticed something afoot if there were any major disturbance inside the concert hall. I surmise that there was little commotion inside the hall. It think most of a churlish behavior occurred outside the venue where most were not even aware of it.

Linda had been making these dedications since the beginning of summer when she began her current tour, though she often got adverse reactions from some audience members (she says she consciously chose to make these statements toward the end of a concert because of the disruptions it could cause), she had never experienced such strong repercussions before. That is not to say she wasn’t expecting something like this, however. Before the concert, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, she said "I keep hoping that if I'm annoying enough to them, they won't hire me back."

According to Linda, the general pattern has been that if there were to be any controversy, the crowd would divide roughly in two and begin arguing amongst themselves, disrupting the concert. This time, however, a particularly fascist faction in the audience decided to make real asses out of themselves, and to make uncomfortable demands on the hotel. My guess is that some Bush supporter(s) who are particularly influential in Vegas made a few threats which outweighed the substantial income Linda was creating for the hotel.

If one carefully examines the news coverage, one see that this incident owes much less to an out-of-control audience, than it does to an over-the-barrel hotel management. I don’t think Linda is crying over this particular cup of spilled milk, though, this has turned into a veritable tanker truck of spilled ink, spreading her message around the world.

What is obvious, to the world, if not to Americans, is that this is another instance of an emerging pattern of economic punishment against high-profile media figures who speak critically of the government, especially Bush. What better way to publicize the consequences of dissent than to target the already famous for their political views? Clearly, the purpose of these reprisals on media figures is not so much to harm the celebrities themselves (the damage done to their economic well-being is trivial, and likely more than compensated by their cause-celebre status on the left) but to very publicly warn the average person of what might happen to him if he fails to keep his mouth shut. Linda’s case seems to be the next step in the oppression. She did not criticize Bush or the Administration, she only spoke favorably of Michael Moore, the right’s current Goldstein.

I called Fred Ronstadt, the Vice-Mayor and Councilman for Ward VI, for comment, but he is out of town on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment on the controversy surrounding his first cousin. I’m sure he’ll have something to say about it when he returns. Unlike Linda, Fred is a very conservative Republican, and his comments should be interesting. I’m sure Fred is kicking himself a little over the State-wide and national notoriety he is missing out on with this story. If he supported the fascists over his cousin, I sure he would score big points in certain circles; the sort of circles that one would want to be known in if one had political ambitions beyond the Naked Pueblo.

Now, it is the citizens of that Pueblo I would like to examine. The opinion letters the Star printed, assuming they are roughly representative of the whole, run strongly toward the view that entertainers should shut their traps, except to perform. Most writers convey some variant of "I paid for a concert; if they want to make a political speech, go to a rally." I find this both disturbing and comforting. Comforting in that it looks very much like many people were working off talking points. I’m quite sure some Republican organization sees this an opportunity. It is disturbing to the extent that I am wrong to take any comfort. What if this many people really think this way?

These people are dead wrong. An entertainer is a person too, and politics does not have ‘appropriate’ social ghettos to which it should be confined. Politics is applied democracy. Should people stop practicing democracy just because they are in a certain social setting? I don’t think so. What these people’s attitude reflects is either a sad disengagement from the democratic process, or simply a convenient cover for a desire to suppress speech they disagree with while retaining some semblance of a respectable cover-story. At least most of them still think they need a cover-story.

One ‘lady’ certainly isn’t hampered by that need. She writes:
I think most movie stars and Ronstadt need to sent out of the United States. France could be good. Especially Michael Moore. They are a disgrace to the public and should keep their mouths shut.
Viva Bolton

This is offensive in so very many ways. How to begin... how about, "Thanks for your honesty, and fuck you, Viva, you fascist pig." That this person is not morbidly embarrassed to express such views in public above her name just chills me. There is no reason that Viva’s opinion should be limited to entertainers. I think she clearly means that anyone who disagrees with her worldview, as dictated to her by the Administration no doubt, should not be considered members of our society, and should be stripped of their citizenship and First Amendment rights. This is clearly rather twisted and ignorant stuff that not many would openly avow or agree with - for now.

However, a view frighteningly akin to this is behind many letters such as this one:
I do not support Ronstadt. I support the casino. I didn’t support the Dixie Chicks. I don’t think that people should be allowed to spout their views at a musical event. If they want to do that, they should go to political conventions.
Leon Weatherly

On the surface it seems only slightly objectionable, and some might even find it reasonable, but the idea that people shouldn’t express their political views at a music concert, or any other commercial venue for that matter, is the thin edge of fascism. Recall that Mussolini did us no favor by obscuring the meaning of fascism with an overly Italianate name: he also called it Corporatism. Any time the economic and social power of corporations are welded to state authority, it can properly be termed fascism.

The government cannot abridge people’s Constitutional rights, but the Constitution does not apply to the actions of private persons, including corporations, except in a very limited set of circumstances, These letter writers all imply or assert a need for performers to be controlled or barred from speaking their minds during performances. Who will do the shutting up? Corporations. These people’s poorly reasoned and unexamined desire to stop the mouth of those who disagree with them hands the censor’s pen to corporations.

The ability to censor is the ability to discriminate based on viewpoint. In the current environment of highly concentrated media and an unhealthy enmeshment of government and corporate interests, those who control the government will have little trouble arranging for corporate interests to use that power to further their political views. Those who hold views similar to these letter writers are, perhaps unwittingly, setting the stage for a fascistic control of public debate.

Whoopi, the Dixie Chicks, and now Linda Ronstadt have all felt the indirect hand of the ruling party grasping for their vocal cords via their relationships with various corporations. The chilling effect of such corporate censorship and its political goals is widespread, and do not even have to be the personal conviction of the corporate officers involved.

Whoopi’s case is exemplary in this regard. Her contract with Slim-Fast was cancelled by a CEO who is not only a Democrat, but a major donor to progressive causes. Yet commercial realities, and his duty to protect the equity of his corporation, left him little choice but to bow to the pressure of those who wanted to see Whoopi sanctioned for her statements about the President.

The persecution of celebrities by corporate interests is a new modus operandi for the American fascists. They are important in their own right, but their real purpose is to chill debate and criticism in our workplaces. Theses high-level autos de fe instruct everyday citizens to fear for their own positions and economic security, and to think twice and look around carefully, before speaking out.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Intel: Republicans Against Education

This chart demostrates the compelling, nay, undeniable correlation between low educational spending in a state and its 'redness'. I think the trend line's slope may even be generously drawn. Of course, there is no data here supporting actual causation, but I have little doubt that it is there to be found. Now you understand why a certain kind of Republican is always working to undermine public education spending, promoting private schools of various types and coddling home schoolers. They are preparing the next generation of voters.

News: Censoring History by Majority Vote

Representative Corrine Brown of Florida had the guts to name the real issue lurking beneath this election: the 2000 election being stolen in Florida. She had the courage to say openly and on the record what many of us feel. In response House Republicans carried out an another coup d'etat, this time against the judgement of history.

The Republicans voted to strike the word 'stole' from the Congressional record on the basis of a House rule which requires members not to accuse other members of a crime. This is a ridiculous interpretation of the rule. Representative Brown did not level her 'accusation' at any specific member, but only referred to Republicans in general. Of course, the Republican's party-line vote to stike implicitly acknowledges their guilt.

Representative Brown said of the incident, "Striking my words from the House floor is just one more example of the Republican Party's attempt to try and cover up what happened during the 2000 election and of their activities this year in the state of Florida in preparation for stealing this year’s election as well. What is the Republican Party so afraid of? Let me tell you what I'm afraid of: another stolen election and four more years of the Bush administration.

Here are the modified remarks of Representative Brown from the floor, and the New York Times article had placed in the record.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Wrong-wing polemicists go unchallenged in our nations newspapers every day. But perhaps the worst case of imbalance in the Tucson press, and the American press in general, is the absolute dearth of voices providing balance and perspective on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

One of the worst offenders, employing pure jingoism and lies in an echo-chamber seemingly reserved only for his use, is Clifford D. May, the Director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (truly evil organizations don't take names like 'Legion of Doom', you know).

I have repeatedly requested the Arizona Daily Star to provide some balance, but after several consecutive columns from the extreme Wrong in the person of Mr. May, with no balancing voices from the Israeli or Palestinian peace movement, I despair of the ability of one man to force the editors to listen. Luckily, the editorials editor is fairly new. Unluckily, he has not returned my messages requesting a more fair editorial balance from our newspaper on Israel.

Unless a community demands that there be a fair balance in both news reporting and opinion publication, newspapers can be used to make an extreme and unrepresentative viewpoints seem mainstream; that is what the Star is doing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their editorial choices depict the Palestinians as wholly wrong and of malign intent, and Israel as a paragon of virtue, incapable of doing wrong. The majority of Americans have a much more realistic and balanced view of the conflict, yet the editorial policy of Star consistently promotes an extremely biased viewpoint, and slights any more moderate voices.

If you read the Daily Star at all, please take a moment to contact the Star's editorials editor and express your concern about the their exclusion of any but the most extreme views on this issue. Do not ask that they not print extreme views, like those of Clifford May, just that they provide equal time to alternative viewpoints. Dennis Joyce is at, and his phone number is 520-573-4235.

The Fight of Our Lives

What I wouldn't give to have a gift of communication like that of Bill Moyers.His eloquence once again strikes a deep cord for me. You need to read this. Settle back, it will take a bit, but you'll be richly rewarded.

Moyers put things back in perpective for me, as he often does. Yesterday, I felt rather miserable and guilty about the bitter anger I feel about what is happening to our America. Seeing the works of those whose only concern seems to be the here and now, giving no thought for the future of Americans as a society, concerned only for what they can get by stealing, cheating, bribery, and lying, makes me furious. And I don't feel guilty anymore.

But I needn't be furious at those who can't see through the smokescreen of lies and the fog of the kulturkampf. They are not innocents, but they are victims, too. Or soon will be. Every single one. Even the nuts who want to veil the women and abolish the Constitution. They've been deceived, misled, and used. They deserve our pity and and our help to see clearly... and if they won't listen... well, people have to make up their own minds about how understanding they can stand to be, I guess. But we should kill them with kindness if we can.

But those who see the goal clearly, and still pursue it, deserve nothing but scorn... even our hatred. They hate the idea of America that you and I love. They want America to be a third-world country ruled by a vastly wealthy few with the rest of the population prostrate and unable to resist their tyranny. I see America's future under the RadCons as that of O'Brien's description in 1984; "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

I will not tolerate the injustice of the society they want, and which they are creating even now. It breaks my heart. And it should. Liberals need constant reminding that this isn't a debate club. At the risk of sounding Jacobin, this is a death struggle. The fight of our lives. The fight for our lives, and, more importantly, for the lives of those who will come after us.

OK. Get to it. Read Moyers already.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Short-of-Sovereign: The Iraqi Handover

Institute for Policy Studies has excellent talking points on the so-called "handover of sovereignty" in Iraq. Be prepared for your next showdown with a know-nothing Bushie neighbor or colleague who insists that the Iraqis "is free now!" (must be said with in an in-bred, slack-jawed demeanor for proper pronunciation).

Perhaps I should should stop blogging for a while. My contempt for the 41% of Americans willing to retain a complete cretin in the office of President is starting to get the best of me, I'm afraid. What do you think?

Bush Claims "God speaks through me."

Visiting with Amish families in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, (registration req.) Bush reportedly told them, "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.’’

Great. Just what we need, a President who can't do his job without divine interlocution. No wonder the poor man seems to have marbles in his mouth and mollasas between his ears all the time, he's struggling for control of his speech centers with a god!

So, I guess it was God who said, "Bring it on!" Puts a whole new spin on those words. It wasn't some little twerp who had never been anywhere near combat taunting our enemies to kill our troops. It was God laying the smack on, with the stuff to back it up.

Perhaps God speaks through St. Cheney as well. In which case it was the Lord God Almighty who told the heathen Senator Leahy to go fuck himself. In which case, the Senator had better go lube up.

And if God speaks through them, why not the whole Blessed Administration?

Bishop Ashcroft was obviously channeling God when he said, "We have no King but Jesus." I had always just assumed as much, actually. The Godly perspective of Holy Fool Rumsfeld when he said, "I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty," now has an obvious origin. And who could doubt the Godly insight of the Vestal Virgin Rice's claim that, "We need a common enemy to unite us."

We have finally discovered the secret of this Administration; everything they say is not just sanctioned by God, it is actually God speaking to us. We must learn humility and accept the words of God without question. This Blessed Administration has access to a higher truth, which, though it seems very much like distortions and lies to we mere morals, is communicated to us directly by God Himself. Who are we to question God? We are just fortunate that such a confluence of Superheroes, capable of acting as conduits for the God of Abaham, have been given to us in the form of this Holy Apostolic Administration in our Holy Empire's hour of need.

Praise Him everyone! Oh, Praise Him! Yes, Praise the Prophet Bush, Our Lord and Master, who condescends to shitteth in our unworthy faces! Hosannas on the Highest!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Abu Ghraib's Evil: Child Sodomy

Seymour Hersh warns that far worse than we have seen, or heard of, to date is coming... the sodomizing of children on tape in front of their mothers. Hersh is quoted as saying, "You haven't begun to see evil.... Horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run."

See Notes, Commentary, Transcript and Video (Real Video) of Hersch's recent address at the University of Chicago.

Hersch also refers to maintaining over 20 secret detention facilities (PDF) around the world into which hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have been disappeared.

Meanwhile, Newsweek is running a feature about the identity of those prisoners in the pictures from Abu Ghraib we have seen so far called "Beneath the Hoods. For instance, the person in the iconic photo of a man in a hood and sheet standing on a box with wires attached to his genitals is a common carjacker, not a terrorist, named Satar Jabar.

If there were any justice in the world, these sorts of revelations of what moral monsters our government harbors, including Bush himself, should have put a stake in the heart of this Administration already. But the ability for educated and otherwise reasonable and ethical people to turn their heads and wallow in fear and willful ignorance concerning these issues seems boundless. People are too afraid to speak about what they know and confront their friends and neighbors about the evil being done in their names.

At this point I've become convinced that there is something seriously wrong with the American people. We know too much not to have done anything about all of this. People should have risen in anger and thrown these scum out of office already, but we haven't. I can only conclude that for too many of us, our fears have become greater than our souls. As the Bushies feed our society's fear, alienation, and divisions with their campaign of cultural terrorism, I can't help but wonder if we are ever going to wise up enough that their techniques will no longer work on us.

Will we ever be free of this vicious assault on the very fabric of our society? I try to imagine waking up on November 3rd with Bush having secured the Presidency until 2008, and I can't do it. I simply can't face that possibility, or imagine how to reconcile myself to another 4 years of this madness.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Stu Starkey, Democrat for Arizona

McCain cannot hide forever....

Someone forgot to tell Senator McCain we have an election in Arizona also this year. While the Senator campaigns with VP Cheney he ignores the people of Arizona. From July 17th through July 31st, Stuart Starky will be at forums in Kingman, Prescott, Parker and Glendale while Arizona's Senator hides from the voters each time.

While Stu Starky speaks of his vision for Arizona and the issues of our time, Arizona's Senator hides in the "bushes" of a broken political dream. The people of Arizona not only deserve an explanation of where Senator McCain has been as their Senator they also have the right to ask where he plans on going. Is this election just another obstacle in his quest for the Presidency?

In Stu's words "On behalf of my campaign and my ideas for America, I look forward to seeing as many Arizonans as possible over the next four months. I regret the Senator is to busy on Meet the Press and running for President to come to Arizona and debate the issues".

The Krug Wacks the Hammer

Screw Tom DeLay.

It will be such a warm and fuzzy feeling to see that smug bastard in a orange jumpsuit for his illegal bribery schemes. Krugman is great for providing context and an even tone to even the worst of outrages.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Latinos for Republicans like Cockroaches for Raid

Just got my daily dose of insanity and hatred from the Bush campaign. Now they are proclaiming that "Democrats compare Latino Republicans to cockroaches."

The basis for their assertion? John Leguiziamo, whom they tiresomely call a "comedian" (yes, with quotes... ), quiped at Kerry's much-bashed New York celebrity fundraiser, "... Latins for Republicans, it's like roaches for Raid."

Of course the GOP hate mail failed to include the actual quote by Leguiziamo in their message. Leguiziamo was not comparing Latinos to cockroaches, but the relationship between the GOP and Latinos to the relationship between bug spray and bugs. But the GOP distort this apt observation from a joke by a single irreverent comedian, into Democratic policy. Now the GOP implies the "Democrats" are saying Latino Republicans ARE cockroaches. Next they'll claim it's secrety in our damn platform!

The sort of racially loaded propaganda to which the GOP will resort on behalf of Bush is truly low. I received several emails from the BC'04 campaign about Kerry's fundraiser, complaining about Whoopi calling Bush names, begging for a tape of the event to turn into campaign commercials using out-of-context moments, and so forth, but THIS one, the worst and lowest blow of the lot, comes NOT from BC'04 but from the GOP. Gotta keep those hands clean, don't ya know.

Well, obviously this is targeted at Hispanic communities who might be persuaded to vote contrary to their own interests by the GOP's cultural terrorism. Preempt them with the whole story.

Contact your friends and family in the Latino communities around you, and let them know that the GOP is determined to lie to them to gain their support.

Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals

This is simply FABULOUS!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Postponed Elections Trial-Balloon Deflates

The Bush Administration disavows the idea of posponing elections should there be a terrorist attack. Congressional Republicans pronounce the Executive powerless to independently postpone elections. Department of Homeland Security officials are disavowing the idea, and Condi Rice claims she doesn't know where such ideas came from. I guess the Bush Junta got too much pushback from the idea to own it, let alone proceed with it.

Editor's Picks 7/13

Local Author: Is America Ready for a Low-Carb Spiritual Diet?

What's behind the popularity of "The DaVinci Code" and "The Passion"? Are Americans ready for a change in their spiritual diet that will be just as pervasive as the low-carb revolution?

That is the claim of author Phyllis Strupp in her new book THE RICHEST OF FARE: SEEKING SPIRITUAL SECURITY IN THE SONORAN DESERT. "Americans are waking up to the reality that spiritual flab is an even bigger problem than body fat," she says. "And the 'bad carbs' that need to be curbed are fear, anxiety, greed, shame, and other negative emotions that threaten spiritual fitness. THE RICHEST OF FARE helps people to do this."      

In this new book, Strupp makes the case that America is in the midst of an unprecedented spiritual awakening that extends beyond the reach of organized religion. She comments, "We are entering a new era in American spirituality that will have a profound impact on how we live, work, and relate. Our religion, politics, and economy will never be the same. THE RICHEST OF FARE reveals the silver lining behind the dark clouds of today's world."  

L.A. Johnson of the Midwest Book Review writes:
"To paraphrase Thoreau, civilization has improved our houses but not the men who inhabit them. This richest country in the world boasts 44 million uninsured citizens; 10 million illegal immigrants; 9 million unemployed; and 4 million homeless souls. Something is wrong with this picture and Ms. Strupp makes a compelling argument in explanation."

Phyllis Strupp holds an MBA from Columbia University in New York, and is a mentor of the Education for Ministry program of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. After a Roman Catholic upbringing, she shunned organized religion for over 20 years. She has been in the Episcopalian faith community since 1993. She has worked in the financial services industry since 1986, and has lived in Carefree, Arizona with her husband Peter since 1997.

THE RICHEST OF FARE blends scientific fact, spiritual truths, and 56 stunning color photographs of the Sonoran Desert. Book excerpts and reviews can be viewed at

Book Summary: Reich's "Reason: Why liberals will win the battle for America"

Robert B. Reich’s book, Reason, is a hopeful note in a symphony of dread among liberals. Facing the prospect of the re-election of feckless ne’er-do-well and federal government infested by thin majority of anti-democratic yahoos, gnawing away at our beloved Republic like a conquering army, Reich’s optimistic assertion that a return to classical and vocal liberal values will eventually win the day, seems, well... optimistic. There is something inspiring about his absolute faith in the good sense of Americans, perhaps, and in a work dedicated to the memories of Paul and Sheila Wellstone, perhaps optimism and touch of populist inspiration is appropriate. If anyone can inspire us to stand up unappologetically to proclaim the validity and common sense of our liberal ideals, it is the Wellstones.

Reich first identifies our enemy, and they are NOT conservatives; they are the Radical Conservatives, a strain of reactionary revolutionaries espousing unproven theories of social and economic order based on Social Darwinism, fundamentalist Christianity and economic anarchy. Traditional conservatives may not agree with us on every point, but they more closely akin to liberals than RadCons, and many are beginning to realize that. We should all beware of the simplistic and radical social nostrums of RadCons; they do not want to preserve the social order, they want to destroy it and rebuild it in their own image.

Reich identifies the origin of the RadCons’ kulturekampf as the counter-cultural youth movement of the 1960’s. They view the 60’s as a breakdown of social order. For many RadCons, the anti-war movement against Vietnam was not a reaction to an unwise and unwinnable war, but a flaw in our collective will which caused our defeat. They are determined to stamp out what they perceive as the weak-kneed liberalism that aided and nurtured the ‘do as thou wilt’ ethic of that decade.

Reich identifies the defining feature of the RadCon mind-set as moral absolutism. They see the world as a contest of opposed dualities (good v. evil, us v. them, right v. wrong) in which punishment with the possibility of redemption is the main purpose of social order. Their predilections have lead America into an unhealthy obsession with private morality, making it the central battleground of political discourse. Abortion, pre- and extra-marital sex, gay marriage, gay sex, illegal drug use, and the like are the weapons of the RadCon kulturkampf. By focusing on these issues of private morality, Reich charges that the RadCons distract political discourse from subjects which truly matter, and are the proper object of politics and government: public morality.

Fiscal misdeeds, corporate and personal tax evasion, white collar crimes (which cost society far more in lives and dollars than street crimes which are the RadCons’ red-meat), unjustifiable executive pay, conflicts of interest, and the legalized bribery of our public officials and influence pedaling, are tearing apart the fabric of our most important public institutions, but RadCons stand mute. Liberals must vigorously champion morality, but public morality, not private, says Reich. Liberal talk about these issues now, of course, but they do so in economic terms which leave them open to charges of ‘class warfare’ which are ridiculous, but politically efficacious enough to deflect many liberals. By condemning these misdeeds in terms of public morality, Liberals can put a powerful horse in the ‘values’ race, address the real damage elite’s lack of morals are doing to our public institutions, and get a leg up in the culture wars by taking advantage of a very important political tool, too little used by liberals - outrage.

Reich then examines the great debate now ongoing between the tried and true liberal solutions to creating a prosperous society with the simplistic nostrums and moralistic Social Darwinism which RadCons are adopting. They seek force the economic anarchy of 19th century robber-baron capitalism on a complex 21st century society: a dubious and risky experiment based on poor reasoning and failed theories. What RadCons refer to dismissively as the Welfare State is simply a system of social insurance, i.e. risk distribution, which has literally created the middle class and the modern capitalist economy as we know it. Without that system, based on liberal values and ideas, our current society and prosperity would collapse in a morass of corruption, poverty, and ruinous business cycles of boom and bust which plagued the 19th century they venerate as an economic paradise.

Nearly everyone is exposed to catastrophic financial risks. The risks to most peoples’ economic welfare, temporary and permanent unemployment, disability, natural disaster, disease, etc., generally cannot be insured against by any but the wealthy. Retirement used to be a matter of falling into extreme poverty for most elderly people. Unemployment could mean the destruction of a family and destitution. Health care was rare and infrequent, while early morbidity was common. It is a great and powerful liberal idea to spread a safety net under society to keep its members secure and productive, not as a handout, but to expand the wealth of society by ensuring the its citizens are protected from catastrophe and able to care for themselves. The liberal welfare state is not just sound business, it is based on a profound moral vision of collective economic security and Christian society.

RadCons equate wealth with virtue, thus poverty and misfortune equal sloth and moral turpitude. They believe that only fear of catastrophe in a ideal free market where people succeed or excel purely on their talents will make people productive and spur growth and innovation. They are working to cut the safety net out from under us in the hope that surety of punishment for failure will spur everyone to greater heights. They are worshiping an ideal ‘free market’ that doesn’t exist. Markets are social institutions, Reich reminds us, not natural phenomenon. Law, regulations, and the power of the state are the market, not infringements upon it. At base, their simplistic and unrealistic goal is simply Social Darwinism retreaded and repackaged as an economic theory. It’s a great irony that so many RadCons don’t believe in evolution and natural selection, except to apply it to their fellow citizens.

Yet at the same time RadCons advocate letting people fail economically (no matter what harm that may imply), some are apparently too wealthy powerful to be allow to fail. Tax-financed bailouts of corporations and whole industries, subsidies for certain industries that would otherwise go under, tax breaks and shelters, and massive contracts based not on merit, but on political influence, seem to be perfectly acceptable to RadCons. Assumably, this is reconcilable to their beliefs because the beneficiaries of this government largess are already wealthy, thus already virtuous, and thus, not subject to demotivation by welfare. If liberals are going to win this debate, we have to stand firm for our values, point out the inconsistencies, and stand on the liberal tradition’s record of success in supporting and growing modern economies.

The RadCons seek to give ever greater benefits to the wealthy, and allow greater concentration of wealth at the top under a justification of ‘trickle down’ economics. Reich challenges the simplistic, and demonstrably incorrect theories of the RadCons on how to create a prosperous society. The basis of the RadCon economic theory is that by allowing the wealthy of the nation to have more money, they will invest more in the American economy and all will eventually benefit. It’s load of malarkey, and liberals need to contest how the wealth of nations actually works now. Capital is international now and it goes where the greatest returns are. If you want investment, you must provide high returns. The RadCons think they will attract that investment by cutting benefits, wages and systemic costs, such as compliance with environmental standards and fair labor practices. Reich points out that America can’t compete as a low cost producer. Unless we want a society of declining wealth, we must compete as high value-added producer.

The only way to be a high value-added producer is to have superior inputs that are attractive to investors based on their quality, not so much their cost. We can’t be the cheapest; so we must be the best. Our infrastructure, educational system, system of social insurance, and system of law and government must be the finest in world. Being the best takes serious investments in our people and the systems which support them, wise use of resources, and good public morals and institutions.

RadCons want the opposite, a race to bottom, choking off investment in people and systems that make America first-class rather than third-world. RadCons’ economic vision is America as a sweat-shop. Liberals’ vision is an America that has the finest, most adaptable, and most secure workforce in the world. Liberals will have to work hard to ensure that our vision, which lifts all boats, is more attractive to voters than theirs, which drains the harbor to lift a few yachts. Liberals must make clear that GDP isn’t the best and only measure of economic success, quality of life matters too. We need to offer a stark choice, not just a small variation on their theme.

Reich is saddened by the cheap and empty patriotism of the RadCons in which denigration of others replaces celebration of what is great about America. He thinks that liberal must take patriotism back from those who use it like a weapon and distort it into a sentiment which asks little except to keep your dissent to yourself, keep shopping, and avoid paying taxes. "It’s your money’ says Bush, and he wants you to keep more of it, even as the nation is at war and running record deficits. Well, that’s simply unpatriotic according to Reich. Those who love their country should sacrifice to support it. Reich suggests that by redefining taxes as patriotic, and possibly setting up a system of national service, liberals can show that real patriotism calls for sacrifice and shared endeavor. Liberals must proclaim that those who would have America live up to its highest ideals love her most, and are not ‘blaming America first’ crowd. Nor are ‘Freedom Fries’ patriotic, they’re just obnoxious and intellectually insulting. The real patriot loves America’s traditions, her values, her idealism, and her citizens’ rights.

Liberals have to also reject the idea that they are soft on defense. Reich points out that it is liberals who constructed the international order which keeps us safe and regulates the world, and it is liberals who have vigorously defended that order against all threats; totalitarianism, fascism, and rabid nationalism have all been faced down by the steady world leadership of liberals. Now we stand ready to face down terrorism, too. Not by invading other nations or stripping citizens of their liberty, but in the only way to effectively combat terrorism, like police work. Good intelligence, good local knowledge, and a heavy hammer or a razor-edge scalpel, whichever is called for, when it’s time to take out the trash is how you fight crime, and it’s how you fight terrorism, too. A that takes having friends and people who trust you enough to call on you in the neighborhood where the criminals live.

Finally, Reich appeals to liberals to reject centrism, and triangulation. We have to make our case plainly and honestly as liberals, working from liberal values. We have to stop running scared from ‘the label’ or we are dead meat. Today I heard some prick of a GOP Senator, who was whining about Whoopi Goldberg’s comments about the pussy-in-chief, say that she was from a place where people didn’t mind being called a liberal. Since when do people commonly take umbrage to being called a liberal, I wondered? Probably few would, but this how the RadCons are waging ongoing campaign to demonize us as unworthy of respect, and unfit for civilized company. To hell with that. We have to stand up and tell the world what liberalism stands for, why it’s better to them, and why the RadCons are full of shit.

This has been a summary of the main thesis and arguments of Robert Reich’s book, but I strongly urge liberals to buy and read this book. It is a lucid and powerful case for how to frame the liberal tradition as a more viable and more attractive philosophy on which to base society that the RadCons’ catalog of moronic Gipper quips.

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