2009/06/06

“TORTURE IS AS TORTURE DOES”

Or, a Fervent Lament About What Yoo Should Repent

Morally impaired professor John Yoo. Now there is a man this country should sue.
May his days writing White House memos and briefs bring him to trial and eternal grief.

This is the lawyer who “Torture” he said,“is hard to define and all in your head.
Besides with all the time bombs a ticking, mustn’t we give those suspects a kicking?”

True, dogs, sticks and stones might break a few captive bones,
But, near drowning it seems, shouldn’t even be counted as mean.

So what if it risks all our soldiers and troops. And, makes us liars and hypocrites to boot.
Jack Bauer did it and look at his result. To not follow his lead would be a big insult.

Jailing forever without charge, counsel or trial? As to any Amendments, John Yoo’s in denial.
“The Constitution is quaint and really quite dead.” Or, so he proclaimed and deliberately mislead.

May his words of malevolent and ignorant intent result someday soon in his prompt disbarment.
A thank you from Bush was his apparent sole goal. For that he sold out his profession and soul.

Convict Bush as well for his unlawful bend since he swore a solemn oath the Constitution he would defend.
But, try Yoo first cause he should’ve known better. Aren’t attorneys supposed to follow the law to the letter?

Nazi lawyers and judges caught Nuremberg ire. That too was for fulfilling their boss’s desire.
Unless for this there’s some stiff punishment, others will assume rules are meant to be bent.

2009/04/27

“GETTING ABOARD WATERBOARDING”

We don’t need Jack Bauer. Let the Fox "News" Commentators Test Drive Torture Techniques

The one and maybe only thing that made the US of A different from all the countries of the world and maybe of all history was that it stood for something more than just self interest or mere self protection. It stood for certain almost unique principles, one of which was that we do not torture. No matter the provocation, no matter the magnitude of the threat, no matter the strength or pervasiveness of the enemy, no matter the risk of delay or harm. We did not torture as official policy and we did not tolerate those who do. Simply calling it something else was never a defense. And, I have never understood why the current crop of "conservative" Republicans seems to hate so much what America once proudly stood for.

Here are a couple thoughts since it does not look like the Republican leadership and their followers will be satisfied until they get torture approved. If we must be like the Nazis, the Imperial Japanese, the Spanish Inquisition, and all the others who used such methods without qualm, let's at least insist on two preconditions.

First, no one can vote for or authorize any torture method unless they themselves, their spouse and their children are subjected to it first by a sadist. That might eliminate some of the worst methods. Second, as to any methods that are NOT first "tested" by and survived by those employing them, let's have some consequences. IF they are used for, say, the apocryphal justification of the ticking Atom bomb, then fine. Give the torturer a ticker tape parade, declare him a hero, thank him for his "saving humanity" (an interesting irony) and have the parade route deliver him straight to solitary confinement for the rest of his life since anyone doing that obviously is not fit to mingle with the rest of humanity. That way they get to call themselves "heroes", but we will not have to have such dangerous sociopaths in our midst.

2009/01/10





















Click to enlarge if desired. The shoe throwing at the president cartoon was created by the author at the Funnytimes website were everyone can create their own cartoons

“SNEAK ATTACK”

Or, World War By Those with Money Against Those Without

Nearly a trillion in bailout grants handed out without strings to banks and companies owned by the ubër rich while a comparatively small loan to the American car industry denied unless the last big unions agreed to commit hari kari.

Legislation to restrict bankruptcy protection for individuals but not companies, and no restriction on predatory lending and credit practices that put borrowers at risk.

Then there is the difference between what CEOs “earn” and what the average employee earns which has already multiplied by a multiplication factor thousands of times greater than it used to be and that doesn’t even include the company perks for CEOs for which they don’t even pay taxes.

Can we forget a concerted decades long attack on both health care and social security to eliminate the “safety net” that once existed for the poor?

What do these have in common?

In retrospect, what seemed to have made America great and relatively unique throughout the world after the last Depression was the size of its middle class, the opportunity at least to move upward despite more humble beginnings, and the relatively benign treatment of even those who remained in lower classes (at least in comparison to most countries) and the rough parity between the competing class groups. Class warfare has always been going on to a certain extent, but it was muted with all three classes each having some genuine power and the ability to weld it after the Depression. The situation evolved a rough set of checks and balances which tended to hold down the avariciousness of any one particular class. Two against one usually prevented excesses of any single group like the ubër rich once exercised back during the Robber Baron Age for most of the late 1800s.

Unfortunately, since Reagan’s time, the ubër rich have secretly re-declared the class war while simultaneously attacking anyone who points out the obvious by declaring that even asking the question is tantamount to “instigating class warfare.” Astonishingly, it worked. The ubër rich have pretty much won. While few were looking, they not only regained control of much of the government most of the time thereby emaciating the opposition, they also tightened control over what was left of the independent media as well. The balance of power was throughly shattered.

A key component of that warfare by the ubër rich was to emaciate or destroy the unions through new laws restricting unionization, bankruptcy courts killing labor contracts, diversion of pension funds, abusive tactics against organizers, shipping jobs elsewhere and PR campaigns vilifying the very concept of collective bargaining to redress serious economic disadvantages. Unions were the prime voice for the lower class. The only other spokesperson for the poor was churches, but the upper class managed to completely distract the ministry from their earlier biblical mission of helping the less fortunate. Now apparently, the sole interest of the clergy is the gender mix in bedrooms and conflating birth control into murder. So much for any effective voice remaining who spoke for the lower class. Keeping them ignorant of what was going on, keeping them distracted with either pablum or more pressing needs, and ultimately making them fearful of speaking up for themselves has succeeded, probably beyond the ubër rich’s fondest dreams. Although the ubër rich are few in number (and want to keep it that way), they made up for it with money and staying power.

The ubër rich war against the middle class has been succeeding too and the current economic crisis is merely one more tool to accomplish the end of reducing the middle class. The tactics there seem to be maintaining ignorance, cutting off avenues of upward mobility especially education, eliminating the good jobs that made them middle class, turning them against the lower classes and playing on fear. Fear not only of the lower classes, but fear of damned near everything starting with “terrorists,” including jihadists (pictured as anyone dark hued and of a different religion), so-called eco-terrorists (i.e. anyone who opposes corporate greed and pollution) and racketeers (usually defined as any and all labor union officials).

Whether the latest meltdown of the economy was a deliberate class war strategy or merely inadvertent side effect due to the massive move of middle class tax revenues and other resources into the hands of the already ubër rich makes no difference. The result was the same. Our large middle class is an endangered species. Downward mobility is a distinct possibility and already on the way. Those who are left as middle class have been convinced by PR that the fault is of the lower class for wanting a living wage (as opposed to the ubër rich wanting obscene amounts to add to what they already cannot spend). Cleverly done.

It also helped to have a cynical bought off journalism corp that no longer believed in quaint journalistic ethics like independence and fairness or traditional investigative reporting. Once the ubër rich controlled the reporter hiring and editorial policies, it was a foregone conclusion of how things would turn out. Of course, the subversion and perversion of the punditry was greatly helped by the laziness, greediness, and cowardice of those being hired to “report.” The capture of the media was complete when the small number of on-screen “talent” was paid so much, they had hopes of being ubër rich themselves. They certainly weren’t going to speak against the ubër rich class they hoped to join, even if they had anything in common with the lower or middle classes anymore.

Prognosis: Poor, just like what many more of the population will likely soon be. Unless we wake up and realize we are under attack, that is a foregone conclusion. Our only hope is that the economic meltdown will prove to be a Pearl Harbor in the Secret Class War of the ubër rich against everyone one else.

2008/12/18














Click to enlarge image. The cartoon was created by Lawlessone at Funnytimes.

“A SHOENAMI OF SKEPTICISM”

Or, A Plea for Journalists to Recapture their Once Respected Integrity

Some of the Washington press corp are wistfully admitting that they wished they had done something at Bush press conferences over the years similar to the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes to graphically demonstrate what he thought of stream of self serving misrepresentation emanating from our President.

Just think. If the White House press corp and their bosses hadn't been so cowardly, gullible, lazy, uninspired, self indulgent, mutually protective and so forgetful of their once proud heritage, we might not have had eight years of utter, unspeakable disaster after disaster. The trillions of dollars wasted, the tens or maybe hundreds of thousands dead and maimed, the lost moral high ground, the damaged Constitution and economy, might not have taken place or been less devastating if the journalists had merely done their job, what they were trained, paid and ethically bound to do.

The public sadly expects most politicians to be revealed at some point as a predator, panderer, and/or panhandler. We have become accustomed to it. We expect something better though from those who proclaim they are professional journalists. From them, we still expected the truth or at least diligent effort to find it regardless of the personal consequences.

What should be more important? A journalist’s pride, perks and continued "access" which is all that the senior corp seems to desire? Or, should it be protecting fellow citizens who cannot protect themselves. One thing is sure, the lengthy failure of US journalists to reveal what should have been obvious from the beginning as massive frauds of this Administration despite years of opportunity to uncover it has resulted in journalism as a whole stupidly squandering something ultimately more important in the long run.... Trust.

I am confident the fed up shoe thrower, al-Zaidi, would distain the weak late and ultimately meaningless accolades of reporters in this country. He more likely would want US journalists to just do their [expletive deleted] job. The only one they had in fact.

2008/11/18

















Click on cartoon to enlarge. (It was created by Lawlessone using clip art at Funny Times)

2008/11/16

“BAILING OUT THE BAILOUT”

Or, Finding Fault with Our Financial Finagling

Let’s see if I understand the 12 (or maybe 13) digit bailout of private companies that has been proposed and administered by the Bush Administration using public funds. Its provisions seem to be:

• Little if any due diligence in advance of giveaway of public money.
• No independent audits of the private companies getting the public money.
• No appraisals of private assets being acquired by the public money.
• Limited or non existent documentation accompanying the giveaway of the public money.
• Few, if any, restrictions on how the public money was to be used.
• No voting control on the equity positions in private companies purchased with the public money.
• Little collateralization or protection of the loans to private companies made with the public money.
• No personal guarantees by the private management or shareholders receiving the giveaways of public money.
• No enforcement of what few written loan and/or equity purchase documents might exist.
• No assurance the public money would be or was used as authorized or promised to the taxpayers and Congress.
• Little if any direct help for the distressed homeowners for which the public money was set aside.
• No change in the bankruptcy laws either restricting creditors or helping mislead debtors.
• No serious efforts at prevention of bonuses or huge salaries for CEOs or other top management in charge being funded by public money.
• No serious efforts at prevention of the public money being used by private companies merely to acquire competitors.
• No investigation of what went wrong and who was responsible or even whether the means and methods were justified before spending a sum of public money that large.
• Little or no new regulation to reinstitute conservative (small “c”); i.e. safe, lending traditions.
• Little or no increase in staff and budgets of the regulatory and enforcement agencies.
• No removal of those individuals in government or the private companies whose decisions ultimately lead to the fiascos necessitating bailout.
• No prosecution or punishment of apparent criminal fraud and misrepresentation within the private companies being bailed out with the public money.
• No tracking of whether the methods were successful (and, by “success” it is not meant just putting massive amounts of the public money in the private hands of the already rich who were probably instigated or perpetuated the mess).
• No reporting to and receiving permission from Congress before the Treasury Secretary chose to unilaterally modify the use of the public funds.
• Not even disclosure of who received the public funds, how much, why or how.

Surely, a recipe for fraud, misappropriation and, more importantly, more of the same.

When “Heckofajob” Brownie was fired from FEMA after Katrina, did Treasury hire him?
All kidding aside, the government lawyers who drafted the Bailout documentation should be investigated for possible ethics violations and certainly for gross incompetence. Disbarment ought to be considered given how badly this has been bungled from the beginning. They must have gotten their law degree from schools that advertise on matchbooks.

Changing the watchdogs who failed in their duties is only part of what needs to be done. One of the primary reasons for our latest titanic financial disaster was deliberate and massive obfuscation. How can you regulate something if you can't see what is going on? How can even the active participants involved (buyers, sellers, borrowers, managers, investors) make an intelligent decision one way or the other if they don't have access to critical facts? Hell, how can even speculators adequately analyze risk versus reward without reliance that the data provided is not deceptive? It becomes more akin to a pure gamble, a bet against house loaded dice, rather then a well considered investment. Adam Smith’s Capitalism can fair, but as he pointed out, the data upon which it is based must not be false or misleading and available to all.

The reckless greedy thieves in charge of our financial institutions prior to the 1980s Saving & Loan Industry debacle, the even more reckless and greedier thieves in charge of the late 1990s tech stock bubble and the most reckless, greediest conceivable thieves of all in charge for the past decade prevented that by doing everything possible to hide what they could and mislabel what they couldn't. That strategy was combined with a condescending paternalism that they knew best; that we couldn't possibly understand; and that anyone who even asked, let alone complained, was ignorant or a “socialist.” Together those thing set the stage for utter disaster.

The misdirection and slight-of-hand was rampant and pervasive. If it had not been for the false labeling, even the village idiot, possibly even George Bush, could have recognized that you should not give a $400,000 house loan with no money down to someone out of a job and with rotten credit. That was not how it was presented to the unsuspecting public though. And, the ponzi scheme worked, worked for the perpetrators anyway, right up to the point when it was too late because the debt had come due.

The blame cannot be wholly assigned to the criminals on Wall Street, the stock brokerages, the bank headquarters and the insurance execs. They had the nasty example of Congress and the White House who do the same obfuscation with the federal budget. The national budget is not even close to being a real representation of the country’s income and expenses. Social Security, war in Iraq funds, all kinds of other things are “off budget,” called other things. Then there is the voluminous set of special tax code provisions where benefits to campaign contributors and fellow travelers are hidden in obscure, almost indecipherable clauses.

Politics as usual in Washington demonstrates that lying to the voter is okay and will not be punished or even closely scrutinized. Politicians do it because if the voters actually knew how they were being ripped off and lied to might vote for someone else. The Iraq War for instance? It would appear that it is free of cost. Someone else is supposed to pay for it, certainly not us. Our grandchildren apparently, not current taxpayers. Something for nothing dominates the centers of power, especially now that the Republicans ferreted out all bureaucrats who still had a sense of honor and foolishly believed in honoring their oath of office.

Why wouldn’t we expect Wall Street to follow the same path? The almost funny part is that they got so greedy, so caught up in their raping and pillaging while they burnt down their own structures, some of them forgot to get out of the fast enough. After a while, they could not even understand their own con schemes.

How to finally prevent this sort of chicanery? Obviously, lots more regulators and the staff and funding to let them do their job and the freedom to do so. Let the states and municipal governments enforce as well rather than federal only jurisdiction that the current Administration insisted upon.

That is not nearly enough though. If there are no adverse consequences to those malefactors who lead us into this cesspool, it will assuredly happen again. So, use the RICO laws regarding criminal conspiracy to seize their assets (the good assets as well as the worthless ones they want to stick the taxpayers with). In fact, use the Patriot Act and other sedition laws to go after them for endangering the national security. Try them as criminals. Maybe send them to Gitmo for a vacation. They after all have proven themselves far more dangerous to this country’s future security than any insurgents captured on a battlefield. Also, take back their bonuses and salaries which we know realize were obtained under false pretenses. Most importantly, impeach the politicians who aided and abetted them.

Why try them for treason? Keep in mind, the cutbacks in health care, port security, and military preparedness that will be caused by these astronomical losses are going to ultimately kill more people than the 9/11 terrorists dared dream.

Most importantly, get back to fundamentals with transparency of financials especially of the books and records of those spending money of others, with true independence of investigators and auditors, with clarity and ease of understanding documentation and with new and strong penalties for ignoring common sense in the future.

2008/11/13

REGRETS? REALLY?

Or, What We Regret Is That Bush Was Ever Born

Bush told CNN he “regrets” some wild overstatements like “Mission Accomplished” and utterly juvenile utterances like “Bring it on!” Of course, it is only a few regrets, tiny ones, but that at least is up from earlier responses to reporters that he essentially had none except for a personnel decision or two.

I wonder if the 5 Republican Justices who intervened in the Florida election in 2000 have any regrets for the hell they caused this country.

I wonder if the families of the 3000 killed on 9/11 have any regrets cheering Bush’s flag waving on the rubble since we now know the event was due in significant part to his ignoring overt warnings.

I wonder if the 96% of the country who said they favored the President and his policies when polled shortly after 9/11 are now embarrassed and regret ever having been so mislead, often by deliberate lies.

I wonder if the 4500 soldiers killed and tens of thousands maimed mentally and physically in trumped up wars started basically for Bush’s ego regret his catastrophes committed while pretending to be warrior-in-chief of the armed forces, especially knowing he hid out during every opportunity he had to participate personally in a shooting war.

I wonder if the families of future terrorist attacks will regret all the thousands of new terrorists created by primarily Bush’s indiscriminate bombings, pre-emptive invasions, torturings, impoverishments, and emasculations.

I wonder if the millions here and abroad who have lost their jobs, their savings, and their homes to his disastrous financial policies and greed have any regrets.

I wonder if our children and grandchildren who will have to pay the enormous debt he created while doing without adequate health care and education will have regrets about their forebearers who so foolishly voted for Bush.

It is sad that child of privilege and entitlement seems to have learned nothing at all despite his minuscule number of admitted “regrets.” As evidenced by his comments, he is obviously blind or indifferent to the astonishingly massive destruction he has wrought directly as well as indirectly. Unfortunately, he still seems incapable of ever growing up or gaining wisdom. Even more worrisome, the most prominent among his followers like Palin, Romney, Huckabee, and Giuliani, who hope someday to replace him, seem to have no regrets about what has happened over the last eight years other than they lost an election. As the sages say, you can never cure a problem until you finally admit you have one.

2008/11/11














Click on cartoon to enlarge. (It was created by Lawlessone using clip art at Funny Times)

2008/11/08

“EVERY SILVER LINING HAS A CLOUD”

Or, Don’t Forget How Close We Came To Losing

In all the euphoria of electing the first demonstrably non-Caucasian as President, we would do well to remember that:

• Despite suffering through the most disastrous, despicable, duplicitous President in the history of this country, nearly one out of every two voters tried to return Bush’s party to the White House. One out of TWO! In other words, no matter how destructive, dangerous and divisive Republican rule has been, almost half this country still fervently believes that only Republicans should ever rule. If the stream of internet anguish, anger and polemic was not enough to convince how apparently deep their hate, fear, and intolerance goes and how willing they might be to do anything to achieve their goal, what about the voices shouting out from the McCain and Palin campaign rallies?

• Despite massive money and manpower expended on never before seen levels, only slightly more than every other person marked the ballot for Obama. A win yes and not as thin as 2000, but certainly not a sweeping mandate on a person to person level.

• Despite the present President’s illegal and relentless attacks on the Constitution and its separation of powers, not to mention assaults on every human right enumerated among the Amendments (except unrestricted access to assault weaponry of course) and despite fanatical assaults against open government, public education, public lands, public airwaves, clean air, clean water, clean food, safe products, traffic safety, worker safety, job security, health security, financial security, even genuine national security security, not to mention undermining energy independence, science advancement, troop support and, you name it, he still has about one out of every four or so adults not just voting for a new Republican in office, but thinking Bush is doing a fine job.

• Despite abundant proof to the contrary and universal repetition by all the legitimate news sources, to this day apparently, almost one in four Texans for instance assumes that a Muslim has just been elected President which suggests an intractability that maybe impenetrable until those folks die of old age (or the lack of health care with which their party has saddled them).

• Despite the relatively conciliatory concession speech by McCain after losing, it is noteworthy primarily for its contrast to the earlier vitriol by which he and his running mate elected to demonize Obama. Its tones could be easily dismissed as merely trying to box Obama in so he won’t do what the Republican invariably do when they seize power which is to continue demonizing the Democrats and cutting them out from participation in decisions.

• Despite the media “horse race” hype, the election outcome was a relatively close thing and could easily have gone the other way except for the untimely revelation of just how deep a hole the Republican had dug for us financially.

• Despite what became a significant Electoral College majority, a look at the land map of election results, especially by counties, shows an astonishing ocean of red lapping from shore to shore with but a relative few tiny sized enclaves of blue mostly clustered around the big cities. Even in supposed bastions of liberalism like Oregon, most of the counties voted for McCain. In terms of US land mass as opposed to population, the country is probably 98% red tinged.

• Despite a close to unanimous vote by blacks for Obama and nearly two thirds vote by hispanics, neither is anywhere near a majority of the population or the active voters.

• Despite the Republicans continuous purging from their party over the last three decades whereby they nastily kicked out everyone even half way moderate or capable of showing the slightest mercy, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance or bipartisanship, somehow they not only still find candidates who spend most of their time appealing to the party base, they manage to reap votes of lots of other people, people who are voting against their own interests whenever they vote Republican.

• Despite paradoxically “collapsing their tent” and narrowing their appeal to serve only the religious fundamentalists, only the arrogantly militant, only the xenophobes, only the greedily selfish, only the heterosexual (at least the purportedly straight that is), only the bigoted, and only the pale skinned from European ancestry with but few exceptions, they still came close to winning and probably would have but for the deux ex machina caused by the massiveness of the financial crisis they had created. Even then, they succeeded in convincing far too many people it was really a Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi created problem.

• Despite the unethicalness, unfairness, immorality and even apparent illegality of some of the things he did, encouraged and certainly favored, Karl Rove (to name but one prominent Republican prevaricator) is not only still around and well paid, he has been given a major soapbox on a national news network and is now calling himself a journalist of a sorts further degrading that “profession.” Moreover, all his fellow predators whose tactics were primarily demonization, dissembling, divisiveness and dirty tricks still believe those are not only legitimate methods, but a successful means to their end of reestablishing a theocracy for supposed “Real Americans,” naturally defined to mean just themselves. Doubt it? Think back to the millions and years spent in the Republican’s dogged pursuit of supposed Whitewater crimes. Think back to the salacious and juvenile tone of the Clinton impeachment. That failed, but not by much. And, think back to the Swiftboating of Kerry and the scurrilous slanders of Nobel Laureate Gore which did not fail. It’s only been literally hours since the alleged buddyship of Obama and Ayer has been bandied about.

• Despite abundant evidence that they have been wrong time and time and time again, the corporate media largely continues to only put on the air those guests, reporters and pontificating pundits who missed the big stories entirely. Not only were they dead wrong on facts and predictions, but refuse to admit it. Moreover, the ones who got it right have been fired, demoted, reassigned or not allowed to appear. Some of it could be dismissed as mere incompetence, but for a large number of stories, the ownership of the news outlets clearly has its own agenda disguised as “news,” especially on matters that affect themselves and their profits. Remember that corporate media controls who the reporters will be, how many there are, what they are assigned to cover and what they will say if they want to keep their jobs. Democrats are grossly outnumbered among those asked to sit on network boards of directors. As for the entire Fox Noise channel, it remains the unashamed PR department for the Republican Party and nothing else. “Fair and balanced,” as they claim? Not a chance. Unfortunately, it still has huge viewership.

• Even as to the portion of the press whose conscience mandates an occasional effort at something approximating real journalism, despite an eternity of “false balance” where the whopper outright lies of Republicans were compared to minnow exaggerations of Democrats, the corporate media continues to act even after the election as if reciting inconvenient facts about Republican disasters is somehow “liberal bias.”

• Despite almost daily evidence that the words in the press releases, the green room spin and even in the titles of Republican legislation are intended to produce the polar opposite of their customary meaning, the press and the public has come to accept the re-definitions of almost everything. The new definition of what is a “patriot” for example would horrify Patrick Henry. The new concept that there are a select few of “Real Americans” and that those from some particular states and cities are apparently fake Americans would horrify Abraham Lincoln.

• Despite nearly universal antipathy developed against this county throughout the world including from our allies, the Republican Party nominated candidates who campaigned on being tougher and more aggressive than Bush, going it alone and that did not deter voters. No doubt the slightest dispute with anyone over anything or the slightest incident will be declared to be proof Obama is clueless, inexperienced, weak, a “surrender monkey,” a friend of terrorists, a traitor or a secret Muslim. No doubt even if he successfully obtained a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, it would be viewed as a betrayal of Israel.

• Despite a financial meltdown of epic proportions caused primarily by greed, misrepresentation, stupidity and a lack of oversight and regulation, almost all the CEOs of the banks and other financial institutions are not only still in charge of those entities, but are steadfastly Republican and unrepentant. The same old mantra of no taxes/no regulation otherwise the economy will be “strangled” is still offered by almost all the players as the only route.

• Despite the debacle in Florida with the butterfly ballots and hanging chads, despite the conclusive proof that Diabold electronic voting machines (owned by a Republican acolyte) and even the optical scanners can be hacked, those machines are still in use and low income voter intimidation is still in vogue.

• Despite the Obama presidency win, the Republicans have had 8 years, YEARS, to purge everyone from the bureaucracy, its regulatory agencies and military command who had the slightest bit progressive, liberal, democrat or even non-partisan tendencies. If you recall from the evidence of what occurred in the Justice Department, even registered Republicans were fired if they weren’t zealous enough in imposing Republican ideology. It will be years before that mind set is reduced sufficiently by attrition of adherents.

• Worse, the Republican Supreme Court that put Bush in power and his own additions to the Court cannot be removed at all and most of the Bush appointees are relatively young. They have show their true colors and it is red indeed under their black robes.

• Worse still, the richest few percent still control three quarters or more of all the wealth in this country. Almost all of them are devout Republicans who not only want to protect that massive hoarding for themselves alone, they want to increase the amount. Greedy though they might be, they will use those resources to protect their assets. It might delay them buying this years’ newest yacht model or scale down its size, but they have been merely inconvenienced in the financial debacle in comparison to Obama supporters who have lots homes, jobs, insurance and savings. The deep pocket books and determination of the uber rich is or should be cause for concern on how the battle for the hearts and minds of voters will be fought.

So, if you are feeling pollyannish, the next time you are in line at the airport, just remember that nearly every other person voted to continue the Republican domination of government, no matter what it costs the county. Their campaign slogan of “County First” rightly should have been “Neocons First and Only.” The result was close to flipping a coin in the outcome.

The next time you are thinking about how tolerant America has become, just remember that the religious right won on all anti gay initiatives in the latest election and the segregationists won on all measures to end affirmative action.

The next time you are thinking of all the things that the Democrats can achieve now that they have control (unlike the shaky one vote majority they had in the Senate the last couple years), just remember not all Democrats are liberal or progressive. They want to be re-elected. Much of the Democrat leadership is the same craven herd that cowered, cringed, stumbled and bumbled with little effect throughout the entire Bush Administration. They were easily intimidated by their own shadows. On top of that, some are not even real Democrats as “Toyko Rose” Lieberman has proven. The Democrats still can’t even cut off a filibuster threatening to deadlock legislation. Their single vote majority in the Senate was only increased by seven at last count and that counts pseudo-Democrats.

The moral of this little tale is that for those who believe in the Golden Rule, who believe that compassionate conservatism is not just a slogan, who believe that facts and fairness should be foremost, who believe politicians and public service should actually obey their oath of office which is almost exclusively to defend the Constitution, vigilance must be even greater than before the election. The progressives and liberals who spent the last many years howling in the wilderness ever since the days of Jimmy Carter cannot rest. Sadly, having the superior candidate never guarantees success. A single victory doesn’t count for much (even assuming President Obama truly is progressive and liberal.)

Hope and Change. He convinced me there will be change. I hope he is right and that the change is what we need. Nevertheless, let’s keep reminding the public, the press and Brother Obama himself of all the “despites” that are bothering us.

2008/11/02

“THE CONUNDRUM CONCERNING CLINTONITES”

Or, Why Do So Many Hillary Supporters Still Seem to Want to Elect McCain?

At one point it was reported that apparently as many as half of the 18 million who voted for Hillary Clinton were saying they won’t vote for Barack Obama. Since most who enthusiastically embraced the concept of a woman in the White House also still presumably embrace the bedrock concepts behind the Democratic Party, the Constitution, not to mention the Biblical Golden Rule, it is hard to understand what they have against Obama or in favor of McCain. Is it petulance, covert racism, or simple misinformation?

Let’s be generous and assume the latter. Misinformation is certainly a possible explanation. After all, a whole herd of gross distortions and deliberate lies thunder in daily to our tvs, radios and computers, loudly trumpeted in the what are known as “swift boat-style” ads and spam. Nevertheless, no matter how many times rumor mongers repeat it, Obama is NOT Muslim, NEVER was, and it shouldn’t matter anyway if freedom of religion actually means anything anymore in America.

There is abundant evidence to conclusively rebut the wild claims and thankfully Hillary herself never suggested otherwise. So, why then do many of her supporters keep mentioning Obama’s supposed Muslim roots or, even if they acknowledge he may “now” be a Christian, cite him for supposedly abandoning his “original” faith? Let us hope the die hard Clintonites recognize such baseless canards for what they are and note where such falsehoods are originating from before they endanger us all by continuing putting another disastrous Republican administration in power.

Other things being recited as reasons to disapprove Obama are not outright slander. They fall in the category of misleading half truths. It is true for instance that Obama, like almost everyone else who ever made it to the Senate, is significantly richer than you and I and has a somewhat more expensive house, which is apparently something that bothers the low and middle class voters who preferred Clinton over Obama. Fair enough, but why switch all the way over to favor McCain? After all, not only is Hillary and her hubby significantly richer than Obama, Obama was not born to privilege as an Admiral’s son like McCain. Anyone who has spent time in the military understands what that sort of privilege usually means in the way of special assistance and perks for family members of high ranking officers.

Moreover, Obama did not abandon an ill first wife like McCain did to trade up to a prettier one with such enormous inherited wealth that he can’t even seem to keep track of how many mansions they own these days outright. Is there any likelihood that you or I would not know instantly how many houses we owned? Better yet, any money Obama has seems to have been earned largely by his own efforts. In other words, Obama’s working class roots are far closer to Clinton’s than McCain’s is. Which is the better role model? Consequently, which candidate, Obama or McCain, would be more likely to better understand the legitimate concerns of the lower and middle class who are having aggressive war waged against them continuously by the uber rich like McCain? Is McCain going to champion the less fortunate? Hah. Surely you jest. McCain may occasionally look and dress like a high school football coach, but given that he proposes enacting a tax cut that would result in a permanent yearly benefit to his family approaching half a million dollars speaks for itself. Obama is proposing a tax cut too, but it is mainly for you and I, not the uber rich.

Look at the voting records. Except for the ineffective campaign finance law passed, McCain is against almost anything that would curtail the current voluminous transfer of wealth from the lower classes to the top 1%. While it is theoretically possible to be inheritance rich like Kennedy was and still act as an advocate for the poor, does any Clintonite seriously expect newly rich McCain to act like Kennedy? If not, then why do disgruntled Clintonites keeping naysaying Obama for being somewhat rich? By the way, have the Clintonites check out the bank balance of the Clintons lately?

Speaking of war, it is undeniably true that Obama did not serve in a war zone, although giving up cushy jobs in law firms to serve as a community organizer goes at least part of the distance. Besides, neither Hillary or her husband earned any combat infantry badges dodging bullets (except for that one supposed Bosnian incident). And of course, neither did any of today’s other leading Republicans except McCain.

Moreover, even as to war record, being a fighter jock who managed to get shot down instead of completing the mission is probably not what should recommend someone to run a huge bureaucracy like the federal government. While McCain does deserve some kudos for putting himself in harm’s way (unlike the current fearful leader in the White House who just likes to dress up in flight suits), the best military experienced Presidents tended to be administrators while serving their country in wartime, not those leading charges. Have the die hard Clintonites, who are now neo-McCainiacs, forgotten the greatest leaders of Democratic Party such as Franklin Roosevelt or, for that matter, Bill Clinton did not wear uniforms? Even if McCain has an arguable factual edge over Obama on this single issue of war record, why is that one issue outweighing everything else that once mattered to Clintonites?

The rest of the “complaints” cited by angry Clinton followers are even less viable as genuine reasons to harm Obama by favoring McCain. Take the “pointy headed intellectual” label being bandied about. Smart? Yeah okay. Unquestionably, Obama has more native brainpower than you or I, lots more apparently. Harvard is one of the two or three toughest law schools in the country to even get into. To be selected as editor of the Law Review while there is proof positive that he was one of the two or three brightest students in a class representing the best of the best of that generation. It is recognized that might seem intimidating to anyone who struggled in school. Still, wouldn’t it be nice though to finally have a President again who could speak English and would not embarrass us? To be fair, McCain seems brighter than the current occupant of that office. On the other hand, the comparable academic record between McCain and Obama is not even close. The undisputed fact is McCain was among the bottom of his class. He likely only got in and allowed to graduate because he was an Admiral’s son.

Rock star celebrity-ism? Arrogance for being filmed in front of phenomenally large crowds? Sort of an anti causecleb concept for which Obama should be knocked? Least we forget, nothing is more rock star centered than a carrier based jet pilot as evidenced by their Iceman, Ghost, Maverick monikers and jock demeanors. To be fair with five thousand men and a billion dollar ship there just to support a few dozen macho types like McCain during the Vietnam fighting could hardly produce anything else. So, why is that a reason to demean Obama when he shows some of the same signs. As for arrogance being a disqualification for the job, that would be nice in a perfect world, but it is almost a threshold criteria for running for the job. The job description is entitled these days: LEADER of the ENTIRE FREE WORLD. The latest claim seems to come down to Obama being more successful at it abroad and at home. Good grief. This particular excuse for choosing McCain is so silly, it does not bear further examination.

Similarly, should choice of leafy green veggies be the test for President? Should choice of booze? Should bowling ability? Haven’t we learned that selecting a President by who we would like to have a night out or party with is not a good idea? Besides, you have more chance of being eaten by a shark in Kansas than the possibility that McCain would want to spend anytime with you. And, what have you got against Arugula? They sell it at Safeway. It is a little tart and somewhat like eating weeds to my personal taste. On the other hand, I have never thought my personal taste in food should have any bearing on who deserves to be elected President. I can understand why the Clinton supporters might be disappointed, maybe even angrily and bitterly so. Yet, how can that possibly translate into Obama should not be President if the only other choice is McCain?

Of course, none of those issues just mentioned above, all ones so dear to frivolous Mainstream Media, are really what we should be using to select a President. Hillary fans would do themselves well to look instead at real issues, ones that matter or should matter to even white, beer drinking, bowling night, church going, workers, female or otherwise.

● Obama is the best and only chance we have to put some justices on the courts who believe Rowe v. Wade and female right of choice is the best choice. In light of the recent revelations the Republicans want to allow health workers to refuse even birth control assistance, four more years of any Republican whatsoever in the White House almost guarantees the death of any choice whatsoever, let alone abortion rights.

● Female rights and the distinction between Obama and McCain is not limited to just birth issues. McCain wants to give us glass slipper fairy tales or at least mukluk ones. Obama in contrast seems to worry about glass ceilings in the workplace. Have the Clintonites forgotten how McCain’s favorite Supreme Court Justice, the ones he wants to duplicate if President, just recently torpedoed a woman’s right to sue for equal pay for equal work? They said that if her unequal pay is successfully hidden from her for long enough, she loses the right to complain about it. Expect more of the same with McCain.

● As for saving those jobs in the first place (not to mention the accumulated pensions and bank deposits they earned) and keeping good paying jobs here in this county, Obama is the best and only chance we have to put some restraint on the rapaciousness of Republicans, lobbyists, CEOs and Wall Street by reimposing some regulations and rehiring honest regulators and by putting limits on sending it offshore. Will the Clitonites’ children be able to get any credit? Will they be able to get a home? The financial disasters of the Republican consistently uniform platforms have dumped the burden on Clintonites’ children and grandchildren, the ones who are not and never will be uber rich. Is that fairness? McCain thinks so.

● Doesn’t McCain think about the future generations at all? His campaign’s catchy slogan regarding our eternal oil addiction is a simplistic “Drill, Baby, Drill” which unfortunately translates simply into “Drain America’s Today” and save nothing. So what if consuming our pitiful 3% of the oil reserves we have puts us at the mercy of those with oil tomorrow? So what if burning hydrocarbons increases global warming and drowns some cities? Why bother to stop to think about consequences? Why bother to apply some long term common sense cost/benefit analysis?

● Obama is also the best and only chance we have to recapture some of the respect and trust the world once had in America and its ideals. That has already been shown in the reaction of the world populace, the world press and the world leaders to Obama’s travels. Surely that has value if a future presidency of Hillary is to be worth anything. Electing another old white guy is not going to do it. Why squander the chance and how does it help Hillary to not have a minority elected for the first time ever?

● War? Well, that is a disappointment about Obama, but at least he is not the one saying we must be there for 100 years at whatever cost to our troops, our treasury, our future, our credibility. Maybe Obama will move us out before we are told to leave with our tails between our legs. What an interesting irony that Bush cannot seem to get his force extension agreement signed by the “democratically elected” government he newly put in power.

● Supporting the troops? McCain says he likes the sound of that. It sounds “patriotic,” but despite all the sound and fury, when it comes to adequate equipment for those troops, adequate care for the wounded, living up to the education and other benefits promised as inducements, he is pretty quiet. And the record of his party is abysmal over the past several years on those things. Since Clintonites have sons, daughters, and spouses going into the “danger zone,” we need a loud fighter for those things.

● With the many other wars McCain wants to continue also comes a war on our Constitution. US sponsored torture, abandonment of the Geneva Conventions that protect our own troops as well, abandonment of bed rock principles such as spying without warrants, arrest without counsel or confrontation of supposed witnesses, jail forever without trial, human rights violations galore, both at home and abroad. Is that really what recalcitrant Clintonites really want to support?

● Moreover, death and destruction is not limited to that brought by bullets, bombs and waterboarding, there is death and disabilities from our environmental degradation for profit, our oil addiction, , housing, savings, and most certainly an almost broken health care system.

● Divisiveness has been the central theme of the McCain campaign. Wedge issues as usual. The list is long.

Between the minority voter intimidation, the deliberate voter misinformation being sent, the electronic vote machine hacking, and the Republican Supreme Court standing by to overturn the results again, the nation desperately needs the Hillary supporters to recognize their own future best interests and support the one candidate who believes what she does.

2008/10/30















Click to on the drawing to enlarge

“THEN WHAT?”

Or, What to Do with the Enormous Mess Left Behind by the Bush Administration

Bush is neither out of office, impeached nor imprisoned yet (although he deserves to be all three). And, we need to continue to concentrate on that fact since in the agonizing months remaining, he unfortunately can continue doing incalculable harm to our troops, our treasury, our health, our economy, our Constitution, our other laws and treaties, our morale, our prestige and our reputation.

Now is the time to insure those seeking the job commit on the things necessary to clean up the political toxic waste spewed behind Bush and his co-conspirators in seemingly unending piles of offal. As much as we would prefer to simply put the unpleasantness behind us, we cannot. If we do not dramatically, publically spotlight and undo the damage, if people are not punished for their attempted putsch to topple us into a perpetual dictatorship controlled by a small group of Neocons, then some successor might someday claim under some pretext that it’s okay to repeat some or all of what the Bushites practiced. There is always the risk that next time it might not be a barely articulate bumbler attempting it. Using the same techniques, but less clumsily so, someone else could have successfully accomplished the coup d’état which is obviously what the Neocons had in mind.

No, we must ferret out and undo everything, absolutely everything, Bush has done since being illegally placed in power by the five Republicans appointed to the Supreme Court. To begin with, expressly repeal every law sponsored by those in Bush’s cabal, officially terminate all his executive orders, and denounce each so-called “signing statement” purporting to amend laws Bush didn’t happen to like. To drive the point home, perhaps we should even ask some of the recipients of his “Medal of Freedom” like L. Paul Bremer III, Tommy Franks and George Tenant, three of the idiots responsible for the Iraq occupation fiasco, to return their medals on the grounds they were awarded the “honors” on false pretenses.

Once Bush’s paperwork is formally canceled and his camp followers removed, we can start over re-examining each item to see which, if any, merit reasoned consideration. This re-examination, the second half of the cleansing procedure or perhaps more appropriately triage, needs to be followed through because we do not want to be like Bush and his Neocons, automatically rejecting for all eternity anything originating from the other side solely because it came from the other side. There might be something or someone useful to salvage.

There is probably little worthy of reclamation. After all, even the titles of many of Bush’s laws are really just deceptions, the exact opposite of what was actually intended by the various Neocon drafters or, more appropriately Neocon obscurers. Egregious examples of the Bush legislative excesses include the so-called Patriot Act, perhaps the most unpatriotic act of all our history. Or, just look at some of the lofty names the Bush folks came up with for their subterfuges like the Healthy Forest Initiative, the Bankruptcy Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the Clear Skies Initiative. Then, compare how such legislation was used by this Administration once it got it passed. Still, the effort to search for something worth saving must be made. It should be done in an adult matter applying cost/benefit analysis to each and every one which was always missing when the Bush White House was in charge.

In addition to removing the written framework for Bush’s excesses, every single person in the Bush Administration implementing them should be removed. Everyone ever recommended for office during Bush’s tenure must be required to tender a resignation, starting with those in charge of funds, troops, contracts and regulators. Possible exceptions might be those who were in place already prior to Bush’s being crowned king, those who subsequently quit in disgust or disillusionment and those who were fired because of whistle blowing or not being sufficiently loyal to Bush personally. Those removed should never again be allowed in positions of power and trust unless and until they can affirmatively prove they are worthy of it or a reconciliation council is set up similar to the concept used in Mandela’s South Africa working its way out of apartheid.

Yes, it’s “profiling” of a sorts, but it’s not an illegal or unconstitutional profiling since this particular reason for discriminating is not among the constitutionally prohibited list. Consequently, Bush’s favorites can be treated with suspicion that they were active and knowing participants in the attempt to overthrow our democracy. An investigation of their finances and conduct should be undertaken to determine whether that was so. Maybe we can recover some of the trillions stolen, diverted, lost or wasted. Lots of prosecutors and investigators should be hired and their offices fully staffed and funded to facilitate the investigation. To insure the message is received that this should not happen again, let’s convict and jail some for crimes like torture and conflict of interest. Unlike how the Bush Administration has conducted litigation, the defendants here should be allowed the benefits of legal counsel, habeas corpus, bail, confrontation of accusers and all the other civil rights in open court that have been shelved these past several years. Once again, the effort should be to dissuade violations of the Constitution from reoccurring whenever wannabe warlords are squatting in the Oval Office.

Detractors might argue that mass removal of Republican bureaucrats and functionaries would eliminate a large group from the pool of potential public officials and might diminish the general caliber of replacement future appointees. In normal circumstances that might be true, as turned out to be the case when even the most nominally Baathist Party members were banned in Iraq. However, the arrogantly hapless and often malicious ideologues that tended to flock to the Bush banner from the dark recesses of the Republican Party have proven to be so horrifyingly harmful, it would appear replacements selected at random out of the phone book could hardly be worse. Let’s have higher standards for hiring their replacements, although that is a very low bar given all the “Heckofajob Brownies” that were installed. The party affiliation should not be a criteria. In the Justice Department for instance, the hirees should be those with the best grades. For judges nominated, let’s start looking at the non partisan American Bar Association recommendations again to see who will be the best judges, not the best zealots.

Moreover, new laws should be put in place to forbid former officials of all sorts from becoming lobbyists for at least six years after they were in office. We don’t want Democrats taking advantage that way anymore either.

Maybe every appointee should be required to pass the same test new citizens must pass and must show they can add a column of figures and come up with the same answer twice running. We definitely should indicate that their oath of office in which they swear to defend the Constitution does not mean party or personal loyalty comes first. We also need to affirm that violations of the oath have consequences.

We must investigate every contract entered into by the Bush Administration with private companies, especially the no-bid contracts that were awarded to companies which were campaign contributors of Bush or were companies in which Bush officials held stock. It will be like turning over rocks to reveal the slugs and bugs skittering away from the harsh light of day.

Corruption, bribery, profiteering and gouging should be punished and severely so for both the companies who profited and the individual officers and officials on both sides of the transaction. Failure to perform timely or otherwise should be grounds for seeking damages for breach of contract. Instead of ignoring costly nonperformance, let’s require it be done as promised or force disgorgement of the ill gotten lucre.

More importantly, perhaps the General Accounting Office should investigate whether we need some of the contracts at all. For instance, why do we need to pay Blackwater guards in Iraq five times what we pay our own troops for the identical tasks? Why should Blackwater employees be given immunity in advance from all laws for whatever they might do? To the extent possible, we should get out of such contracts immediately and move such contractors to the bottom of the list, if at all, for future work.

Lots of regulators should be hired to once again insure the safety of our air, water, food, toys, etc. For each, we should be conservative (small “c”) because so much is at risk with each. Greater conservatism (small “c” again) should be practiced once again with our bank deposits and our resources.

What else should be done to prevent a repeat of not only the tragedies of 9/11, Katrina, Iraq, the Bush Recession, global warming, and the dissipation of our military? For one, we need some new laws to insure no more voting fraud by paperless hackable electronic voting machines. We need some better laws on campaign financing to stop buying of elections. We need some new laws to insure government transparency and less secrecy, at least less secrecy designed solely to cover up malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance. Maybe we need to go back to the old equal time rules on access to the media in political campaigns. We certainly need to find a way to have less centralization of the news, the airwaves and bandwidth. Maybe we need to think about enacting something like the European Vote of No Confidence to oust dangerous Presidents prior to the end of their term. Maybe we need a “None of the Above” opportunity on voting to allow a different slate of candidates to stand for election. We definitely need better debates. Perhaps let the League of Women Voters run some again and ignore the pressure from the candidates. Definitely let the minority parties participate.

We need to start obeying once again our international treaties we long ago agreed to like the Geneva Conventions and the Kyoto Accords. Maybe we should disbar the attorneys who asserted we did not have to do so.

Without question, we need to reduce the temptations for foreign adventuresome. On the top of the list should be a reduction of the need to use petroleum for fuel. Both conservation and alternative sources of energy should get the subsidies and priorities that oil production and ethanol does now.

We definitely need to get out of Iraq. We can save a little face by saying we’ll be back if the country acts up again or actually attacks us or invades Israel or others. That’s probably what we should have done the moment we seized Saddam anyway. It would not have justified our highly illegal invasion without cause, but at least it would not have subsequently revealed our serious vulnerabilities and our utter inability to govern Middle Eastern countries from afar. There will be pain getting out. On the other hand, it will be less than the pain and cost of staying forever. Besides, we got kicked out of Vietnam. They were as fiercely suicidal as the Muslims, but none of them followed us home once we left their country.

Perhaps we should stand up and apologize to the rest of the world for being such jerks for the past eight years. Maybe we should turn Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld over to international tribunals to see if they are war criminals. That might go a long way toward showing we mean it when we say we are sorry.

The bottom line is that it will take effort and expense to eliminate the rot that is infesting us. We must fumigate the entire house so to speak. Unfortunately, unless we dig it all out now, the infestation will spread and the entire house might collapse.

2008/10/24

"THE WOULD HAVE BEENS, COULD HAVE BEENS, SHOULD HAVE BEENS OF TAXES"

Or, It's Not the Fact We Are Taxed, It's How the Conservatives Waste Our Taxes

Oh yeah. The eternal drum beat by so-called "Conservatives" of no new taxes makes soooooooo much sense. Especially when they are the ones spending taxes faster than the Treasury can count the revenue. Judging by what Conservatives do as opposed to what they say, they apparently want to try and show government can't possibly work. They're right. . . at least as to a government run by what passes for Conservatives these days.

After all, we could be providing health care for all children like most civilized nations do. But, apparently why do that when we can pay trillions instead wasting our troops killing and maiming foreigners so we can occupy their country in a pointless war commenced on admitted false justifications?

And, if we must send our troops to fight in wrongheaded wars, we could provide them with adequate armor, sufficient supplies, enough reinforcements, treatment for wounds, and the post service education they were promised. But, apparently why do that when we can pay trillions instead for wasteful, too often unworkable, pork barrel "Star Wars" projects benefitting only the CEOs of the military/industrial complex?

We could be providing for regulators to insure that stupidity, greed and duplicity does not occur in our financial institutions. But, apparently why do that when we can pay trillions instead to reimburse wall street bankers and stockbrokers for their stupidity, greed, and duplicity?

We could be providing a small amount for inspectors to insure that we are not poisoned, killed, maimed and cheated by manufacturers, suppliers, importers, retailers and advertisers. But, apparently why do that when we can pay trillions instead due to illness, death, lost productivity and fraud?

We could be providing a sound education of our young and funding basic scientific research. But, apparently why do that when we can lose trillions instead making ourselves uncompetitive at home and abroad.

We could be providing for upkeep on roads, bridges, parks, schools, and other critical infrastructure before the too long deferred maintenance costs us trillions to replace them. But, apparently why do that when we can pay trillions instead for more tax cuts primarily for the already unspeakable rich?

We could be providing a small amount for alternative energy sources which will wean us from oil addiction. But, apparently why do that when we can continue instead to pay trillions filling the treasuries of countries that hate our guts?

We could be seeking better ways to prevent or minimize global warming, pandemics, air pollution, water pollution, soil loss, fishery destruction and the like. But, apparently why do that when we can risk instead trillions in property damage and lives lost?

We could be seeking better protection for cargo ports and points of entry to insure fewer terrorism risks. But, apparently why do that when we can risk instead trillions in losses from just a single well placed terrorist bomb?

Taxes are what get things done which only government can do. But, they can't be done when self-styled Conservatives get a chance to spend them instead on foolishness or lining their own pockets.

Why is it that apparently no Conservative politician or pundit has ever heard of the concept of cost/benefit analysis? Did they all flunk math in grade school? Are they just incompetent or deliberate deceivers or both? Least we forget, alleged "Conservatives" have cost us more money in the past few weeks than all the welfare cheats in all of history put together.

So, the next time a Conservative, whether a Republican or for that matter a pandering Democrat, hysterically tries to shout the usual knee jerk mantra of "NO TAXES!" or wants to peddle you hatred of government bureaucrats for trying to do their job, keep in mind the following counter mantra:

If you truly want to be conservative, you need to oppose the Conservatives.

2008/10/23

“A FEW QUESTIONS FOR THE UNDECIDED”

Or, Debate Yourself

Polls indicate there are many undecided voters even at this late date. That’s understandable. Far too much of the information received from party partisans, the internet, talk shows and even the Main Stream Media tends to be unsupported, distorted, misleading, downright contradictory or even outright wrong. (Examples of complete falsehoods amazingly still circulating include claims that Obama is or was a Muslim and McCain is or was a racist.)

So, for those still puzzling, perhaps they should forget what they have heard or read over the last 20 months from others. Perhaps they should forget the questions deliberately evaded by the candidates on the so-called “debates.” Perhaps instead they should ask themselves a number of common sense questions which are good in any election and which only they themselves can truly answer.

Here are a Joe-the-Baker's Dozen to start.

1. Are you better off today than at the last change of administrations?

2. If not, which individuals, industries, institutions or agencies do you see as having contributed the most toward causing that unfortunate situation? And, which party or party members own, dominate or most strongly control most of those problem entities?

3. Certainly if there was a problem, it must then be asked next who hires, fires, funds and directs policy for any regulators of such entities?

4. Which party seems to you most likely to not only generate or attract new jobs and business for the country, but good wage jobs and business which create things? Perhaps more importantly, which party seems most likely in this era to keep them in this country once created or attracted?

5. Which party seems most genuinely interested overall in protecting your own job and your family’s investments, home, safety, education, and health?

6. Pick an issue to which general knowledge and common sense can apply. Take oil for instance. We all know petroleum is not only a fossil fuel (which means once it’s burnt and dumped in the atmosphere, it’s gone forever), most reserves of it are in countries that seem to prefer to do us harm. If so and those are deemed undesirable, which party is most likely to want to wean us from oil dependence?

7. Are you embarrassed, angered or frightened by any of the recent decisions of the two parties and are they likely to continue those policies if put or kept in office? An example of a major decision, to mention but one of several possibilities, would be going to war. If that is a decision that you feel deserves close consideration, then you ought to then ask were the justifications for the most recent war both good enough and credible, how was the war conducted and what were the results? Other examples of major decisions where such self analysis might be applied include trade, environment, food inspection, social issues or anything else you deem critical to your well being and/or the country’s future. On average, how to those comparative decisions stack up between the parties?

8. Do you perceive there to be competing countries outside the Middle East to which Washington ought to be paying more attention such as China, India, Russia, or South American ones? Assuming you believe other international interests have been neglected, ask yourself if we are really in a position today to do anything about those if they fester and swell up? If not, which party has the most responsibility for that condition? You don’t need to have a master’s degree in foreign policy to ask yourself these questions. At a minimum, you at least know whether or not you feel comfortable about whether those in charge are asking the right questions themselves.

9. A corollary is if you believe we need any allies in today’s world, who do our most important ones seem to prefer head this country? Which party has a candidate most likely to ease their concerns and obtain their full cooperation when and if needed?

10. Although perhaps not as important as some other questions, since it remains these days a distinct possibility that the President could die or be killed, what do you think of the abilities of the Vice Presidential choices of each party?

11. Probably more revealing than politicians and pundits endorsing their own party’s candidate would be whether there are any high profile defectors from the parties endorsing the other candidate? If so, who are they, what are they saying, why have they done so and do you respect their opinions?

12. You’ve seen rallies of each party on tv and listened to the crowds. Which crowd and which attitudes of such crowds would make you most proud and happy to be identified as a member? Who in those audiences is the candidate appealing most to and why? Whatever his or her talents in firing up a crowd of loyalists, is he or she genuinely a uniter or a divider of this whole country after being elected assuming you believe that matters in the long run?

13. Maybe most important of all, what will your children and their grandchildren think of your choice?

2008/10/20

“MY HOBBESIAN CHOICE”

Or, Who’s Circle is Filled In On My Ballot

If you have read much of this blog, there is probably little doubt who I have voted for. A friend asked if I would vote for Obama because he’s black. I told him no, although I strongly suspect that aspect would (1) go far toward restoring the trust and confidence of the rest of the world in the US which has been so badly lost and squandered and (2) finally offer indisputable proof this country actually means what it says in the Declaration of Independence (certain opening words anyway) and in the Constitution (certain amendments anyway).

Actually, my first choices for President might surprise you. Early on, I wrote to Bill Moyer, a former Republican speech writer and currently PBS journalist, trying to persuade him to consider running. His insight and apparent honesty has always attracted me. My second choice, someone I tried to encourage back more than a year ago was New York Mayor Bloomberg, a former Republican, now officially an independent. My next fallback hoped for candidate was among those who initially announced, the very experienced New Mexico Governor Richardson. And, fourth was former VP candidate Edwards (although he like too many politicians subsequently let his testicles fry his brain). Still, I liked what he had to say. And, at least his was hetro-stupidity rather than what several across the aisle seem to want to indulge in.

I might even have considered the McCain if he was still the vintage 2000 McCain. Sadly he isn't. His choice of Palin really bothered me, but that was long after he had seemed to abandon most of his early principles. Wanna know why that particular decision rather irrevocably turned me against McCain, even if I had not already been so disappointed in him over the last year?

Most Americans and most of our allies in the World would welcome a female US Vice President or even President. Many would prefer it after what has gone before in the past few decades. Me too. Female Heads of State have been quite successful elsewhere (although no panacea) in both war and peace.

And, there are probably hundreds of thousands of very talented, exceedingly bright, highly educated, well experienced, extremely strong American women McCain could have selected. They include judges, attorneys, professors, CEOs, diplomats, politicians, career administrators and bureaucrats. Most are mothers. Most are married with socially acceptable spouses (read: males). A huge number of the possible choices no doubt are registered Republican. Many are fiscally and/or culturally conservative. Some believe intensely in preventing or restricting most abortions.

Yet, McCain chose Palin. Palin of all people. Palin despite the incredibly long list other females he could have chosen. Worse, despite months of opportunity to search, he appears to have insultingly pulled her out of his (hat) after mere days or maybe just hours of “vetting” her supposedly “qualifications.” Was that mere impulsiveness? Was it crankiness, reckless indifference, outright stupidity or a more sinister disregard for the risk to this country which Palin and her “First Dude” hubby may present?

Why did McCain force us voters into such a questionable choice, even for those of us who have supported McCain in the past? Unfortunately, it makes us think of “Heckofajob Brownie” that Bush picked to head FEMA thereby seriously exacerbating the Katrina disaster. Choosing Palin sure speaks ill of McCain’s decision making capabilities as far as I am concerned given the myriad of alternative choices so much better. Who will he select for all the other critical jobs?

We can disagree how good or bad Obama might be, and maybe if Obama is elected we will have to turn him out in 4 years. Frankly, given how badly the Republicans have hamstrung us with debt and sunk us in the Middle East quicksand, a reincarnated Thomas Jefferson himself probably could do little. Nevertheless, of the two Hobbesian choices we have in November, the combination of McCain picking Palin, plus his tar baby adherence to continuing the Iraq War, plus his being a member of the particular party that must be held primarily responsible for the astronomical financial mess we are in, makes me want to insure that there is at least a change of which parties get to appoint people to the regulatory agencies for the next election cycle. And, as a matter of general principal, I firmly feel there needs to be some penalty for what went wrong, something along the lines that the Captain of the ship always ought to take responsibility whether he personally caused the wreck or not. It might make future Captains more careful.

Unfortunately, we no longer have the useful Custer Concept where the leader in charge bears the burden of the bad decision along with all the others he harmed in the process. Now sadly, the person who screws up is the one least likely to suffer.

There is one opportunity available in this fiasco to do something really helpful if we are smart enough to seize it. Let’s use this opportunity to enact new laws that would put on the ballot for each office a choice of “None of the Above” so that if that button/oval/chad is pressed/darkened/punched winning the most votes, a new election is held shortly thereafter. In that new election, the only people ineligible to run again would be those who wasted our time the first time. It might cost more, but maybe there would be savings in the long run since maybe the parties would start giving us better first choices.

2008/10/19

“I’M CONFUSED”

Maybe you can help me?

I'm a little confused by some of the news reports. Let me see if I have this straight.....

• If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re “exotic, different.”
• Grow up in Alaska eating moose meat, you’re a quintessential American story.

• If your name is Barack, you must secretly be a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
• If you name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, aah, how cute.

• If you graduated from Harvard Law School, you are elitist.
• If you were third from the bottom in your class, you're well grounded.

• If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
• If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

• If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
• If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a paragon of virtue and honor.

• If you advocate womens’ choice, you are a murder.
• If you favor the death penalty, pre-emptive attacks, extensive bombings and shrug off hundreds of thousand of civilian casualties as inconsequential, you are a realist.

• If you insist all the Constitution be defended as required by oaths of office, you want to endanger the country.
• If you support spying without warrants, imprisonment without counsel or trial, and that torture is just a word easily redefined, you are a man of honor.

• If you dare to question a policy or ask for less secrecy or accountability, you have committed treason and probably support al Quida.
• If you oppose dissent and are afraid to talk to the press, you are tough.

• If you seek to find out what went wrong in order to correct the problem, you are stuck in the past.
• If you insist that despite what your opponent says about cutting taxes for all except the uber rich he must be lying because his party always raises taxes, then you merely drawing appropriate inferences from what has gone before.

• If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control and warnings about sexual predators, you are eroding the fiber of society.
• If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

• If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
• If your husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

• If you change your mind on how to fund your campaign, you are a foppish Flip-Flopper.
• If you abandon all your previous stated principles from the prior decade in order to solidify your base, you are a pragmatist.

• If you long ago was on a large committee with someone who once advocated bombing to protest war but never actually harmed anyone or did jail time, you nevertheless consort with terrorists who can never ever change.
• If you share the same stage in the last year with someone who advocated assassination or on a radio program with someone who illegally ran guns to terrorists and welcome their endorsement, well . . . people should be forgiven.

• If you make any observation you are black, you’re a militant, black power racist.
• If you remind everyone your opponent is black and allow buttons to be sold at your rallies saying that if a black man is elected we can no longer refer to it as the “White House,” you are merely being fair and pointing out the obvious.

• If you favor getting allies to support positions and seek international accord before invading, you are a wussy.
• If you have a nasty temper and threaten Russia despite having no military resources to back up the empty threat, you are macho.

• If you favor getting out of a war that has lasted longer than any other except the Vietnam one based on a timetable that your allies and the President agree on, you are a surrender monkey.
• If you chose to ignore all your allies including those you placed in power, you are an independent thinker.

• If you pack stadiums both home and abroad, you are a worthless celebrity.
• If you are a female Republican doing so, you are merely interesting.

OK, much clearer now.

(Note: Normally, everything in this blog is my own musing, but thanks are due and a tip of the hat for some of the above bullet points to an anonymous internet item in circulation.)

2008/10/17

“ANOTHER MICKEY MOUSE THEORY”

Or, Why Are Republicans Really Attacking Non-Profit ACORN?

John McCain insists that ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and it’s efforts to register low income and other under represented residents encouraging them to turn out for the vote will somehow be the biggest voter fraud in history. An astonishing claim.

As supposed “evidence,” Republicans like Senator McCain and the pundits in their pocket cite that some petitioners have signed voter registration cards with names of non-existent people such as “Mickey Mouse,” conveniently forgetting of course that anyone actually showing up on November 4 claiming he is Mickey Mouse will have to produce ID to that effect. As usual though, little in the way of genuine hard evidence to support the Republican’s theory and wild speculations is ever produced as to any actual voter fraud that resulted from such silly false names. And if any is trotted forth, it typically is exaggerated and anecdotal at best. In other words, there are never any verifiable totals provided which even remotely hint this really is any sort of a significant problem.

Ignored entirely is the efforts of ACORN itself to prevent fraud from occurring and the fact that many such instances were only exposed because it was ACORN, not Republicans, who revealed them so they could be deleted. It is even possible in light of prior dirty tricks by Republicans that some of the false names may even have been submitted covertly by Republicans hoping to discredit ACORN. In any event, false signings may be a fraud against ACORN, but it is not vote fraud against the state unless and until it is attempted to be used by someone to actually vote in an election. There are already laws against that.

And, have you ever noticed how it is almost exclusively Republicans, who mantra is usually to loudly assert their party is the one supposedly all for “freedom” and “democracy” When was the last time you heard about anyone other than Republicans attempt to prevent others from voting? Yet, the mere suggestion of the remote possibility that Mr. Mickey Mouse might show up to ask for a ballot is sufficient for Republican legislatures to quiver and pass laws making it increasing difficult for poor, new, elderly, disabled and/or minority voters (i.e. those who would likely vote Democrat), and only such potential voters, to exercise their rights.

In contrast, the far greater possibility, in fact the proven opportunity, of hackable electronic voting machines with their secret “proprietary” software built and often serviced exclusively by Republican zealot owned companies like Diebold is completely dismissed. Dismissed despite tests showing again and again how quickly and easy it is to do so with such no-paper-ballot generating machines. Also, largely dismissed by the same Republican legislators and pontificating pundits is the unquestionably large number of legitimate votes by low income groups almost routinely blocked or thwarted by misinformation given to prospective voters either deliberately or inadvertently, by purging of rolls without timely alerting the voters purged, by direct and indirect nuisance intimidation of such groups though use of police or press or partisans, or by unequal treatment of voting stations regarding maintaining a convenient number of voting machines and polling staff available which adversely affects length of time and stress on voters election day. And, have we forgotten difficult ballot formatting (remember the Florida “butterfly ballots”)? All of these tactics tend to punish or totally disenfranchise primarily the poor, new, elderly, disabled and/or minority voters who tend to vote for anyone other than Republicans.

All the sound and fury sure on this subject looks like nothing more than Republicans attempting once again to divert attention from their own propensities for potential voter fraud. In psychology, the trait exhibited by the Republicans touting this latest anti-ACORN theory would be known as "projection." In litigation, when you have the facts or the law in your favor, pound them. If not, then as used here by the Republicans, the tactic becomes just pounding the table. Loudly. Accuse others and maybe they will neglect to investigate you.

Over time, it is becoming increasingly clear that Republicans would apparently secretly prefer that the only people who should get to vote in America are white, elderly, males who are registered Republican . . . and sit on the US Supreme Court.

2008/10/13

“WHO’D YA SAY WAS A TERRORIST???”

Or, If Obama Is a “Terrorist” or Has Terrorist Leanings, Then McCain, Palin and Their Boss, Bush, Surely Must Be Too

Let’s see if I correctly understand the Palin/McCain theory about Obama’s minor association with William Ayers (who admitted once upon a time having maliciously damaged some buildings with explosives back in the turbulent 60s era but is now a respected professor and certainly not in jail or under indictment). The Republican theory, fed as raw meat to engage (enrage?) supporters at rallies, is apparently that:

(a) once a “terrorist,” always a terrorist since no one can ever ever ever possibly change and

(b) anyone whoever has ever had contact with a “terrorist” is probably a terrorist too or at least a supporter of terrorism.

I don’t understand the Palin/McCain obsession with the subject because if the theory is valid, then it would seem to follow that McCain, who all his extremely long political life (except for the past few weeks) loudly supported deregulation of the Wall Street must be LYING to voters when he says he now wants to re-regulate them and throw the bums out. The same for all his other numerous what-could-only-be-called 180 degree “flip-flops” on abortion, fundamentalists, etc., which he only started to espouse since he announced his latest bid to run the US? If Ayers cannot be trusted to ever change on anything, then how are we expected to believe McCain can or has?

As to supporting or consorting with those advocating terrorist ideas, which is the other half of the Palin/McCain charge against Obama, how about McCain’s new buddy, the self-declared “man of God,” Pat Robertson? Robertson, the man who openly called for assassination, yes, assassination of foreign leaders? Robertson has appeared on stage with McCain, yet McCain doesn’t seem to be branding him as terrorist or asserting he can never ever change? I guess the difference is that Robertson is Republican and, by definition, Republicans are supposedly incapable of either terrorism or torture.

Maybe the Palin/McCain ticket was only referring to terrorist acts against Americans, not foreigners. (Say, I wonder if Timothy McVey was a Republican?) But, using the Republican definition, isn’t that precisely what some of the things G. Gordon Liddy was doing and more recently than Ayers was last doing things? Least we forget, Liddy, unlike Ayers, was convicted and did jail time. Liddy is as equally unrepentant as Ayers, but a court formally confirmed Liddy’s guilt. Ayers merely made an “admission against interest” as it is now in the rules of evidence. No prosecutor choose to indict him for his “confession” those. If McCain truly believes his mantra he is claiming, why then has McCain, unlike Obama, never thoroughly repudiated that acquaintanceship with Liddy?

Interestingly, if the Republicans want to assert that the supposedly criminally inclined can never change their (prison) stripes, then Liddy, not Ayers, would actually be a better argument for that theory. After all, Liddy in his radio program and in print seems to still be advocating from time to time various reprehensible acts of murder and mayhem on fellow Americans.

Perhaps Palin and McCain were only referring to doing harm to American property. Well then, how about the Alaskan Secessionist Movement that the “First Dude” was in until his wife got crowned the GOP VP nominee? Loss of Alaska would certainly diminish the assets of the US. We haven’t heard if that group (which Palin welcomed in a speech while serving as Alaska’s Governor) advocated domestic violence to serve their cause, but Republican Lincoln certainly considered advocates of such secessionist causes to be dangerous to the United States. Did Palin perhaps forget her oath of office to defend the Constitution which doesn’t have an escape clause for states? No one (at least no Democrat) is saying the Alaskan’s First group doesn’t have a right to exercise free speech, but it sure sounds like consorting and aiding at least. Why then for consistency isn’t McCain denouncing his partner’s actions? Why isn’t she denouncing the sessessionist group her husband was in? Oh yeah, that’s right. No one can ever change if McCain is right.

Moreover, what is to be made of President Bush’s decision recently (while Palin and McCain were loudly ranting about terrorists never changing) to proclaim that North Korea, a supposed charter member of “Axis of Evil” club, has changed and is not conducting state sponsored terrorism anymore? Remember exactly what recent act it was by North Korea which prompted Bush to hurriedly lift the ban on North Korea? It was North Korea’s decision to reopen it’s potential nuclear bomb making facilities. So apparently, Bush has decided a terrorist country gets declared a non-terrorist country only if does something truly terrifying. Does that mean Bush favors terrorists? Shouldn’t then McCain be advocating Bush be immediately impeached as a traitor?

Well actually, maybe that last thing would be a good idea.

2008/10/09

"WHO Really DESTROYED THE ECONOMY?"

Or, It Must Have Been That Evil Clinton Again (Bill, that is)

I have been trying to figure out how the Republicans would finally manage to blame the last thirty years of Republican financial irresponsibility on Bill Clinton. After all, they have blamed everything else on earth on him. At last, the answer.

According to the latest explanations by Republican shills, apparently he “pressured” the poor defenseless Republican CEOs of the Republican owned banks to assist more low income people get into home ownership. Supposedly, they instantly capitulated and made loans to everyone who walked through the door no matter how risky it was in doing so. Yes, they made obscenely huge profits in doing so, but it was practically entrapment. They had no choice except to line their pockets and endanger the nation.

Yes, the Republican dominated stock market seeing the huge profits wanted some of it and made stock and insurance bets disguised by a bunch a phony names, but that only magnifies Clinton’s guilt for putting the idea in their heads. The fact that the Republicans making all the critical decisions were deciding in essence either (a) nothing could ever possibly go wrong or (b) they could stick the Treasury with the bill for the bet. . . . Well, that was irrelevant.

Shame on that nasty old Clinton for tempting them that way. Didn’t he know the Republican CEOs weren’t capable of resisting the greed? Didn’t he know they would over react and take his literally without restriction or restraint? Didn’t he know those heads of the big corps weren’t sufficiently educated or experienced in financial or security matters to see the danger or where it might lead? Didn’t he know they didn’t have the smarts, the tools or the guts to obstruct, let alone effectively resist a man whose guts they so thoroughly hated? Didn’t he know the Republicans had dismantled or controlled any regulatory agencies and laws that might have spotted or prevented the problems? Shame shame shame on Clinton for taking such terrible advantage of the Republicans’ weaknesses and utter ineptitude.

Is it too late to impeach Clinton in absentia for his high crime and misdemeanor of giving those poor innocent Republicans an excuse to rape our economy? If it’s too late, then maybe every Republican CEO, banker, lender, stockbroker, pundit and“regulator” at least ought to start wearing blue dresses to subtlety remind the rest of us how Clinton forced all those thousands of Republicans to their knees in service of his favor for subprime borrowers.