Thank you Mr. President for finally admitting on May 25, 2006 you were a juvenile jerk, a strutting bully, an arrogant poser ignorant of history and customs, a cowardly paranoid fearful of honest debate, and in general a pathetic judge of men, words, deeds and their consequences. Those are perhaps not quite your own choice of how to characterize your comments on past misjudgements, but the general intent is the same.
Good for you to recognize that at long last. It has only cost thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, almost all the good will that had been laboriously built up over decades, not to mention tearing apart our national family. Still, at least you deserve a pat on the back for beginning to recognize the monumental error of your ways. That is, assuming your comments are not just another political ploy to work the polls.
Pardon us for a lack of confidence you mean what you say, but families of addicts like you have long and bitter cause to doubt. And, we will continue to doubt for a long time to come. You must re-earn that trust once so freely granted to you. Keep in mind words are not enough, especially when nothing else suggests you have genuinely moderated your addictions to military adventurism and oil.
As you should have discovered in your previous addition to alcohol (and possibly other recreational pharmaceuticals), that admission of yours is just the first step in your recovery. Now take the other 11 steps from the tyranny of your addictions, addictions which you have attempted to impose on us against our will.
Granted, the rest of the steps to recovery are far more difficult. They are painful and maybe even expensive. Nevertheless, nothing less will allow us to forgive you in light of what you have wilfully destroyed so far. You must show you are taking those extra steps as well.
Or, The Ignored Constitutional Requirements for Declaring War
Memorial Day is an excellent time to remember that we are not at War, not technically. In fact, we have not been at War since armistice was declared in 1945.
Granted, there have been battles big and small since then. Every generation it seems, like clockwork. A hundred thousand or so dead US troops alone since the last declared War. Probably five times that or more wounded mentally or physically. God only knows how many civilians adversely affected. Occasional great wounds ripped in the national psychic. Trillions upon trillions in today’s scarce dollars pumped into the military industrial complex as President Eisenhower characterized it to prepare for, initiate or recover from such conflicts. Yet, no War actually declared in a full six decades, a goodly chunk of our nation’s entire history.
Oh, the press, pundits and politicians rhapsodize, or more accurately hyperbolize, about us being at “war” against this or that. It routinely drips off their collective tongues like the sound of cow plop falling from the four foot height of a steer’s behind. Publications are saturated with the word. And, it is hard to find a TV or radio channel that does not at some point dramatically mention during the day either the “war against drugs,” “war against crime,” or “war against aids.” Heck, we have so cheapened the phrase that there is now apparently even a so-called “war” against obesity, perhaps even a “war” against erectile dysfunctions if the spam invading our email is accurate.
Even ignoring however the “wars” where people are dying from bombs and bullets, such as the Iraq “war” or the “war” in Afghanistan or the ubiquitous “war against terrorism,” we are still not genuinely at “War,” not as our forefathers intended, and definitely not as enshrined in the very Constitution our politicians swear each inaugural to uphold. While our Presidents for the past half century are always spouting off bombastically (no pun intended) about how we are supposedly at “war” with somebody, Article I, Section 8, gives to Congress, not the President, the power:
“To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”
The man self styled as “Commander-in-chief” might get to pretend dress in a military flight suit and use an entire multi billion dollar aircraft carrier as a mere backdrop for a speech. He might tell his troops it’s okay to torture (although the section quoted above from the Constitution suggests otherwise). He might get the Marine Band to play at his dinner parties. He might send his boys and loud toys into harm’s way. But, he does not get to declare War. That is reserved to the elected members of Congress.
Why hasn’t there been any Wars declared in 60 odd years? It is not as if there were not plenty of situations that deserved us going to War. A classic example was our successful endeavor in evicting Saddam from Kuwait after he invaded that sovereign country. The Korean “War” had plenty of justification on just about any level. Possibly even Vietnam (although the initial excuse of the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” proved to be largely bogus) could have justified declaring War against the North.
It is not as if there was not enough time, especially since we are probably not contemplating sneak nuclear missile attacks at the moment. Bush proudly and publically proclaimed well in advance each time he was on the way with our current set of combatants. Besides, look how fast Congress assembled to prevent tubes from being disconnected to one brain dead woman. When the right cause exists, as War often is, surely a quorum of Congress can be assembled quite quickly to debate, demand to see or hear some proof under oath, and quickly pass a Declaration of War.
Even as to Afghanistan (where interestingly enough, the Taliban at one point apparently offered internationally to surrender Osama for prosecution if the US would merely prove the same low level of evidence, i.e. probable cause, that is needed to indict someone caught, say, speeding) the invasion was not instantaneous even in this supersonic age. The President immediately rejected the Taliban’s offer, did not bother to see if it might be genuine, refused to provide any evidence of guilt, claimed essentially he didn’t need to show any stinking proof, and demanded an equally sovereign nation surrender a resident or else be invaded. Even assuming the Taliban were lying or stalling and even assuming Osama would not have been finally surrendered or caught except by invasion, there were still a number of days granted to the Taliban. Usually, some time is needed to gear up the military option. Why couldn’t that holding period have been used for Congress to actively debate on a Declaration of War? What “war” has been shown to be so time critical lately that a few days could not have been used to really discuss it first?
Think about it. Why have all the “wars” since World War II been forced to be called “police actions” or incursions or rescue missions or nation building or foreign adventurism or whatever? Perhaps it is the same reason we renamed the War Department the Defense Department after WWII. Cowardice and contempt.
That’s right. Cowardice! It’s gutless, craven Congressmen afraid of either the President or their constituents or what other nations might say or all of the above that has blocked Declarations of War from being debated. For those outside the current Administration who have actually read the Constitution, it is abundantly clear our Founding Fathers deliberately and with wisdom aforethought set up the mechanism of our government specifically to insure that it is difficult to accomplish things without airing what is at stake and discussing the relative merits. A Declaration of War, by its very nature, requires public debate where the general population, not to mention its representatives in Congress, have a chance to learn what is going on and cogitate whether it is the right thing to do. It cannot be done overnight, but it can be done relatively speedily when need be. Congressmen though fear that they may lose the next election. They fear asking questions. They fear anything that may hold them accountable for their own actions. They fear international embarrassment. They like leaving it up to the President. It lets them off the hook. They fear forcing the American public to act like we are at War with the inevitable resulting results on taxes, the economy, the requirement to conserve resources or possibly force white suburbanites off the tennis courts and into uniform against their will.
Some might argue what is the harm in ignoring that particular section of the Constitution? After all, can’t we accomplish the same end result (applications of force on others) without bothering with all that rigamarole? Isn’t a Congressional resolution good enough if anything at all is required on paper? Why force a paper trail, so to speak? We managed to invade Iraq without it? Yes we did, but is that a good idea? Look at the results.
The other aspect of the refusal to formally Declare War is the contempt it ultimately breeds of the Congress and the Constitution itself. That contempt by the voters and, more importantly, the President, lead some, particularly aggrandizing Presidents, to view it as disposable.
We should never have contempt for a process that insures careful contemplation, compromise, cooperation, consensus and common sense. Naturally, those qualities are anathema to Presidents, especially the weaker ones, the ones who believe in their divine right to rule unimpeded. The ones who have no confidence in their ability to convince on the merits. Still, it is the way the Constitution was designed to work, and has worked pretty well.
More importantly, a Declarations of War, at least in part, is a way custom-made to help prevent tyranny, an all too real possibility for all democracies. The refusal of Congress to risk debating a Declaration of War may be one of the reasons the current President feels personally justified in assuming near dictatorial powers on spying and eavesdropping without warrants and abandoning trials by jury with rights of defense counsel. Those are fundamentals upon which our nation was founded and partially fought in its first War. Or, perhaps it just that the present White House occupant feels he can rationalize such usurpation of power whether he truly believes the alleged justification or not.
Here is the critical issue. If the President can declare war all by himself and get away with it, what need is there of a pesky Congress anymore? Julius Caesar would be proud.
True, a President can always defacto start hostilities by telling troops to do something that will cause others to Declare War against us. Still, if Congress has not formally done so in a Declaration of War, there is always at least the chance to impeach the President for doing so and dig us out of whatever pile of rubble he has wilfully placed us.
Interestingly, Bush argues that in time of “war” he is not bound by either the Courts or Congress. Much of his case is built around that dubious legal theory. Yet, he seems to suffer from fear himself, fear of being forced to state his case in the forum where it is supposed to be.
In any event, if the current President and his successors get away with emasculating the Declaration of War clause of the Constitution, then there is nothing in the Constitution that cannot be equally emasculated. Perhaps it is time to declare war on Congress’s refusal to Declare Wars.
Every political pundit, whether promulgating in print or polluting the public airwaves, should come with a pre-warning label proclaiming:
“The following prolonged loud pronouncement is from a pompous, prejudiced, pandering, pre-emptive, presumptuous and certainly poorly informed prognosticator. It is likely to be hazardous to your pocketbook, your protections, your piece of mind, your progeny, and the population at large. Pay attention at your peril.”
Alternatively, maybe they could be forced to show a "box score" up front proving how many times they have been profoundly wrong or primarily hypocritical.
If nothing else, let's petition for a law requiring them to wear a scarlet letter "P" at all times so we can know who to avoid.
Or, How to Tell the Violent Leader of a Terrorist Group From a Gallant Defender of Freedom
Uses airplanes as a means of destruction
Uses airplanes as a means of destruction, but does not insist the pilots commit suicide
Targets civilians as well as military
Explains the targeted dead were either military or mere collateral damage
Assumes opponents are guilty and beheads them without trial
Assumes opponents are guilty until they prove themselves innocent without benefit of counsel in secret military tribunals
Thinks torturing is a good policy and doesn’t care who knows.
Thinks torturing is a good policy, but doesn’t want the voters to know
Does not allow a free press
Does not want a free press, but allows it so long as all government mistakes and crimes are first classified top secret
Wears funny head coverings everywhere he goes
Only wears funny head coverings when in Texas
Dresses up in fake combat gear for photo ops in front of a cave
Also dresses up in combat gear costume, but uses an aircraft carrier for the staged backdrop
Stereotypes others and is suspicious of everyone who looks or acts differently
Does not stereotype, but merely profiles and investigates anyone who looks or acts differently
Seeks to stomp out all political parties except his own
Tolerates opposition parties so long as they keep their mouth shut and remain a powerless minority
Demonizes enemies as spawn of Satan who must be killed
Demonizes enemies as unspeakably evil men who must be killed, but is not sure whether Satan actually parented them
When caught deliberately lying, charges the accuser of being a heretic
When caught deliberately lying, charges the accuser of being politically motivated
Invokes religion to justify breaking koran commandments and international laws and insists his religion is the only correct one
Invokes religion to justify breaking bible commandments and international laws, but knows his own religion is the correct one
Launches "jihads" against unbelievers
Launches "crusades" against unbelievers
Believes anyone who opposes the methods of those in power is a heretic
Believes anyone who opposes the methods of those in power is unpatriotic
Believes extremism in defense of extremism is no vice
Believes he must destroy the village in order to save it
Hides in a cave and sends others to do the fighting
Hides in a bunker and sends others to do the fighting
Likes to curse at others
Likes to curse at others, but only if the microphone is turned off
Doesn't speak English well
Doesn't know he doesn't speak English well
Cannot be found
Has never been found in a library, an unemployment line, a waiting room, or a real war zone
Believes he is a compassionate conservative
Tells others he is a compassionate conservative and hopes he is believed
Refuses to negotiate
Refuses to negotiate, but rationalizes it as the other side started it
Fully realizes that blowing up enemies will generate retaliations
Has learned absolutely nothing about retaliations from the entire known history of the world and especially half a century of middle eastern conflict
Read the Bible and the Koran
Read the Bible and heard of the Koran
Has parents who were rich
Has parents who were rich and former Presidents
Does not believe in civil liberties
Believes civil liberties are only for our own citizens and not all of them
Believes only Muslims are terrorists
Does not drink
Only binged back when he was a "kid," i.e., throughout his teens, twenties, thirties and forties.
Does not believe in freedom of religion
Believes in freedom of religion so long as it is Christian, preferably militantly evangelical Baptist
Believes God tells him what to do
Acts like God and believes he may be related
Wants to destroy the US economy
Has been pretty darned successful in destroying the US economy with crashing stocks, rocketing unemployment and worthless savings interest
Should be arrested and tried by the International Court of Justice
Should be impeached and tried by the Senate or the International Court of Justice
Some voters ask what’s the big deal about the spying on fellow Americans? Islam terrorists are trying to kill us. Right? The President can do anything in wartime. Right? There’s no other way to catch the bad guys without resorting to warrantless spying. Right? No one has anything to fear from wide spread government spying on literally millions of ordinary citizens if they haven’t done anything wrong. Right? So, what’s the big deal?
Spying on Americans without bothering to obtain a warrant with the accompanying judicial oversight is a big deal, the biggest, a Constitutional Crisis in fact. It’s a big deal because:
1. It’s Expressly Forbidden by the Constitution. Those who say otherwise either have never read it or, more likely, have chosen to deliberately deceive about it. Read it yourself. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states, about as plain is it gets, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” What part of the word “NO” don’t they understand? Merely because a devious Congressman, a disingenuous Attorney General or, for that matter, a dissembling Supreme Court Justice says it is permitted, does not make it true. The words are unmistakable, unequivocal, and unalterable without amending the Constitution itself (even assuming we would actually want to throw out one of the few protections against abuse of power we have left). There are no “asterisks” in the Constitution. George Bush, the Attorney General and all the rest behind such Constitutional violations solemnly swore before the God they claim they believe in to uphold that very Constitution including the parts they did not happen to like. Crossing their fingers behind their backs when they took their oaths of office does not create an exception.
2. It’s Expressly Against the Laws Passed by Congress based on the Constitution. There is some question as to whether the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA, which allows some warrantless searches so long as the warrants are obtained within several days after the spying has already started deserves to be held as “constitutional” given the clear prohibition of Amendment IV. Nevertheless, even under the loosey goosey FISA law with its secret judges, minimal review and no opportunity for opposing views, the actions of Bush and his supporters are in violation of the inarguable wording of that law.
3. It Doesn’t Seem to Work. Even though the White House admits it has been conducting such illegal searches, wiretaps, data mining and other secret spying on Americans since shortly after 9/11, the number of terrorists caught by such methods in all those many years is apparently either one or none. Literally millions of Americans have been spied on without warrants or probable cause or even suspicion. They have been spied upon relentlessly by every means that can be devised. Trillions of phone, internet and other electronic messages and data banks have been invaded. Yet, there are almost no results of all the effort. While funds for things like port security and other desperately needed and legal terrorist prevention activities went begging, there was almost no justification for the massive cost of secret electronic spying on darned near everyone. Some apologists for such actions might try to claim that the government did catch terrorists with such methods and merely does not want to reveal it by bringing the ones they caught to public trial. Of course, that raises a whole new set of dictatorship-like questions if true. But, given this Administration’s penchant for risking national security to pursue its own purely political ends (such as the outed CIA agent affair), if the Administration had succeeded with such techniques, almost certainly they would be braying it at the top of their lungs. No, the only times the White House really keeps secrets is when it is trying to hide its own incompetence or illegalities.
4. There Are Other Tools That Do Work. There is no persuasive evidence anybody the Administration caught could not have been caught by the many other successful, long established and legal methods. The single 9/11 suspect they caught and brought to trial was caught by other means. Does it need to be pointed out that such methods weren’t deemed necessary to defeat Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, far more potent foes. Moreover, even if there were no other means, since when does the end justify all means? Obviously, the Bush Administration believes or asserts that its ends are golden and therefore justify any means possible. At the same time, how is that sort of reprehensible thinking all that different from how the terrorists act? Are we to be indistinguishable from the terrorists except that we don’t prefer beheadings? Has Bush never heard of the Golden Rule? Or, is it just that he wants to be sole Ruler?
5. It Doesn’t Just Affect the Terrorists. Wiretapping and searching of Americans is fully permitted, even under the Constitution, so long as (a) it is primarily focused on specific targets, (b) there is at least some probable cause suggesting those targets did something that is criminal and (c) an independent third party such as a judge is reviewing the evidence. Assuming those truly minimal restrictions to prevent abuses are met, a warrant is routinely granted making the whole thing fully legal. Here is the important point. If a wiretap or a search has a warrant, then every crime discovered while listening or searching is punishable, no matter how unrelated to the initial warrant. For instance, if the feds tap a public phone or an internet server because, say, drug dealers happen to use it, then everyone else who uses the same public communication terminal and mentions something that might be evidence of some potential crime can have it used against them. Is there anyone who has never disobeyed any law any time? Odds are you have committed crimes you did not even know existed. Plus, the government is adding new crimes all the time. It can all come out in public and quite legally at that point. Do you really want the government to review all your electronic communications with others and have the ability to use that against you?
6. There May Be Other, More Nefarious, Uses of the Data Gained. All of this leads one to wonder if there might be some other motivation for such massive, blatant and arrogant disregard of the rules. Blackmail is an obvious opportunity. While blackmail is illegal under any circumstances, the Bush White House crew has already demonstrated that mere illegalities are of little consequence so long as his unique ends are achieved. Other than the hardware involved, how is the principle behind such searches any different from that of the Watergate burglars in the 70s? While finding terrorists is the alleged purpose of such spying, spying on political opponents for instance would surely yield useful levers to prevent Congressional Democrats or inquisitive reporters or even straying Republicans from challenging the Caesar-like powers with which Bush is cloaking himself. Do you think anyone in power who wants to stay in power can resist that opportunity for long? It doesn’t even have to actually be used. The mere threat of universal government eavesdropping declared as legal would have a chilling effect on public discourse. Who knows, perhaps the spying to date would explain the utter ineffectualness of the current national Democratic leadership. Perhaps not.
7. The Assembled Information Can Be Used to Help the Party in Power Politically. In any event, it is not necessary to use the accumulated information just for blackmail purposes. Remember, if the initial spying is determined to be “legal,” then probably everything resulting from it can be used for any legal purpose. Think how useful it would be for the party in power to know what the party preferences are of the millions of people spied upon. A party that knows that might not have to waste money sending campaign material to strong supporters and could target more on just the wavering ones. Obviously, information gained in secret by the party in power does not have to be shared with the other side in an election. On top of that, a party that knows how people were politically inclined could find ways to play dirty tricks on election day to keep the voters on the other side from reaching the polling places or generally intimidating them. The voting booth itself is not safe from such spying if it is somehow deemed “legal” to spy without warrants. So much for secret ballots. We already know that the this Administration believes anyone disagreeing with its goals is a potential tool of terrorists. Think of its ability to use such accumulated data to investigate tax returns, deny licenses, and freeze bank accounts of opponents, even if the Administration did not want to go to the trouble of jailing without trial or lawyer as it claims it has a right to do during “war.” What limits are there, if any? And, if the Administration does not want to dirty its own hands, it could simply turn the data over to the competitors or bosses or pastors or spouses of those with anti-Administration proclivities and let them apply the force to neutralize the opponents of the Administration.
8. The Assembled Information Can Be Used to Help Private Companies Who Want Your Money. As pointed out above, if such spying is legal for one purpose, it is legal for almost all other purposes. The data mining, for example, can be sold, or more likely given, to private companies who were heavy campaign contributors to those now in power. Even if the White House chooses for once to be non-discriminatory, do you really want strangers to know what movies you watch, especially the risque ones? Do you want them to know what web sites you have visited or what alternative news sources you have sought? Do you want them letting others know or having the potential to know such things? Will the individual employees of such privileged companies keep the information private even assuming the companies who paid for the information promise to do so? Do you want anyone having access to know what books you read? Do you want them to know what you or your children eat, let alone whom you date? Do you want them to know where you go, what you do, what you said in conversations or emails you thought were private? Do you want them to know about your illnesses, your secret desires, your past indiscretions? Worse, even if, and that is a mighty big if, the Administration was not willing to commit overt blackmail on its own, is there any assurance it would not happily allow others to do so if it happened in the process to indirectly benefit the current Administration? Think of the power it gives for anyone to have that data. A paranoid thought, but entirely justified in the light of the continuing disclosures by the usually gutless press corp.
9. It Destroys Trust in Government Officials. Knowing how often power corrupts, do we really want to eliminate all the checks and balances our Founding Fathers so carefully imbedded in the Constitution? Do we want to anoint one of the formerly equal branches of government with unequaled power? Do we want to give up privacy and freedom for the illusion of security? Do we want to make ourselves the laughing stock of the world?
10. It’s Just Plain Wrong.
Those who do practice such warrantless spying are criminals. Those who support it are genuine traitors in the truest definition of the word. Those who do nothing about it are idiots. What are you?
If God had sent Commandments to Journalists instead of Moses
What the Reporters Must Have Been Sleeping Through in Journalism School*
1. Thou Shalt Understand That Not Everything Is Permitted Two Points of View. If someone declares the sun will rise in the west, it is not sufficient to simply quote someone else who dutifully says it will rise in the east. That does not make the resulting report “fair and balanced.” A true journalist has an affirmative duty to either point out the obvious that there is not the slightest history of that ever happening or, better yet, do some investigative reporting quoting from astronomy textbooks to point out that the sun does not “rise” at all. It merely appears to do so because of a spinning earth. Either way, the reporter ought to exercise common sense by mentioning it is patently impossible to for it to even appear to rise anywhere except by looking due east in the morning. In court, this is called taking Judicial Notice.
2. Thou Shalt Print First the Questions Not Answered. When politicians and PR flacks answer questions that were never asked or don’t answer at all, keep asking the original questions until answered. Or, better yet, print as part of the resulting story the questions that were not answered.
3. Thou Shalt Not Just Print Press Releases. All statements of politicians, self proclaimed authorities, self anointed messiahs, CEOs and PR flacks of any sort should be assumed to be either deliberately false or at least ignorantly wrong until proven to be true by verifiable evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt through outside reliable sources.
4. Thou Shalt Honor Requests for Private Confidences Except When It Comes From A Public Official. The only statements made by insiders that should be protected with reporter privilege should be those made about the organization itself, not about outsiders who happen to be criticizing the organization. In other words, sources should be free to label themselves, but never others. As a corollary, neither the word “liberal” nor the word “conservative” should be considered curse words.
5. Thy News Department Shalt Tell Thy Marketing Department To Stuff It. Individual ownership of media entities and major campaign contributions by such owners within at least the prior 12 months ought to be regularly revealed at the start of each article or news broadcast. It's called disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Beside, if reporters can’t find crimes committed by their own bosses, then they aren’t doing their job.
6. Thou Shalt Not Send The Entire World’s Press Corps To Cover One Sex Trial. Like education, often the public needs to hear news not involving bleeding, bedrooms, blondes, bangs, or booms whether they want to hear it or not. Either that or at least confine such B,B,B,B&B “news” to the entertainment pages.
7. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Competitors’ Access To Power. All perks of any sort given to reporters should be considered automatic conflicts of interest and reported in any story by the recipient reporter. Pundit columns should always be clearly marked as solely the opinion of the pundit. Perhaps their expertise, if any, or lack of it on a subject should also be disclosed. In fact, the total number of reporters and staff working on the particular story should be reported at the bottom so that the public can decide how well a subject is covered. Better yet, the amount of time spent on a particular story should be reported.
8. Thou Shalt Always Reveal When the Officials Are Angry or Arrogant. It should be reported as news who is excluded from access to politicians and news sources. Who interviewees refuse to talk to speaks volumes all by itself, not to mention revealing the ethics and moral courage (or lack thereof) of the interviewees who duck reporters. As a group, all reporters should refuse to interview anyone who attempts to pick and chose who will be doing the interviews.
9. Thou Shalt Not Deceive The Public. Being first with a report is never ever as good as being right about the report. And, being right about a report is never as good as being complete. Moreover, Journalism will never be a genuine “Profession” unless reporters are both licensed to practice like doctors, lawyers and accounts and risk losing such a license when they disobey journalism ethics. Those reporters convicted or fired can be free to write of course. It just should not be with the title of “Reporter” anymore.
10. Thou Shalt Confine Editorial Opinions to the Editorial Pages Where They Are Disclosed as Such. Nuf said.
The checklist of things that the Republican Party really wants since the Neo Cons seized control of it back in the 80s is becoming clear as evidenced by the results of the last decade or so. It is only a minor exaggeration to sum it up as follows:
Make oil companies richer
Make media conglomerates richer
Make gun manufacturers and war industries richer
Make insurance companies richer
Make importers richer
Make offshore banks richer
Make foreign manufacturers richer
Make drug companies richer
Make lumber companies richer
Make coffin makers richer
Make lobbyists richer
Make incumbents richer
Make fundamentalist TV preachers richer
Make rich individuals much richer
Make spying on opponents easier
Make starting wars easier
Make being a bald, white male easier
Make bigotry easier
Make electing rich, white, male, bigoted, extremist, Republicans easier
Eliminate any Republican who is not an extremist clone
Find a cure for baldness and erectile disfunction
Continuing “Collateral Damage”:
Reduction, impoverishment, elimination, or subversion of
Protections for our air, water, food sources and wildlife
Staff and funding for our regulatory agencies and justice department
Accurate and reliable electoral system
Diversity and upwards mobility
Personal privacy and safety
Tolerance and good natured humor
Free speech and dissent
Freedom from government torture and spying
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights (except for gun toting)
Due process and fairness
Checks and balances
Moderation and reasonability
Competence and capability
Openness and accountability
Honesty and honor
Allies and trust
Security for ports, transportation system and infrastructure
Bipartisanship and national unity
Favorable trade balance and a balanced budget
The lower and middle classes
The National Guard and military morale
Ability to deal with fresh international threats
Veterans and their families
Worker wages and protections
Health care and pension coverage
Women and children
The elderly and retired
Competition and innovation
Science and exploration
Education and reading
Investigative journalism and news reporting
Practicing the actual teachings of Christ
The moral “high ground”
The “Golden Rule”
Pride in what America is Doing
Apparent Continuing Goals:
Make the Republican control of everything permanent
Extend that control to other countries
Silence all opposition
Keep the efforts secret
Too bad everyone leading what’s left of the Democratic Party is too fearful, too lazy, too defensive, too corrupt or too incompetent to do anything about it. As clumsy and as inefficient as the Parliamentarian system is, it is starting to look better for preserving democracy than our two party system.
In a recent speech given by VP Dick Cheney while he visited Lithuania's capital, our fearless vice leader stated unequivocally, "In many areas of civil society — from religion and the news media, to advocacy groups and political parties — the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people,"
He also admitted, "Other actions by the . . . government have been counterproductive, and could begin to affect relations with other countries."
According to him, "No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation."
"And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements," to quote Cheney’s words further.
He concluded with the indictment, "There is no place in a [region] whole and free for a regime of this kind," calling a particular government "the last dictatorship” in that corner of the globe.
Stirring words indeed. Of course, he was denouncing a certain Eastern European country, but substitute that one for our own nation ruled by the Bush/Cheney regime and no truer words were ever said. Cheney’s proclamations should be tattooed backwards on Cheney’s bald head so he could read them in the mirror every morning when he shaves. Maybe he would finally be embarrassed.
I want a “divorce.” No, not a marital divorce.
I want a divorce from the scary people who insist that torture is somehow acceptable if they merely redefine the word (as if a rose by any other name would magically remove the thorns). I want a divorce from those who feel the US can attack anyone they want at any time without so much as the same proof we would insist upon in a court case for marijuana possession. I want a divorce from those who arrogantly assume there are no adverse consequences from such rash actions, let alone unintended and very expensive ones. I want a divorce from those who apparently have never read the Bill of Rights, not to mention the explicit wording of the rest of the Constitution such as its absolute prohibition against warrantless searches. I want a divorce from those monomaniacs who say that it’s okay to require a license for parading and a test to drive a car, but neither to own an armor piercing, 50 caliber, sniper rifle capable of bringing down airliners. I also want a divorce from those who claim that the only “patriots” are those who never question policies of those in charge (which of course makes George Washington a terrorist). I want a divorce from those who insist there is no limit on the President’s power (apparently Divine Right theories are back in vogue). I want a divorce from those who feel it is perfectly okay to permanently foul the water, the land and the air itself. I want a divorce from the wastrels who think it is okay to create unpayable debt and save nothing for our children or their children. I want a divorce from those “Bad Samaritans” who have no compassion for the elderly, the ill, the disenfranchised, the poor. Someday, I could be one of those myself, not to mention that is not what we were always been taught in Sunday School. I want a divorce from those zealots who shout that I must suffer their brand, and only their narrow brand of religion, in the schools, in the courthouses and the other places I must go too.
The list of irreconcilable differences goes on. The list of outrages grows daily. Worst of all, I no longer believe it is possible to change the minds of that half of the country which rigidly espouses such beliefs. We have drifted so far apart, we don’t even seem to speak the same language anymore. The words might sound familiar like “liberal” and “conservative,” but it’s obvious the definitions applied by each side are from totally different dictionaries. The meanings have become so twisted that it is impossible to communicate. For instance, I think of “liberal” as caring about your fellow humans, trying to protect the weak and disadvantaged, attempting diplomacy first, seeking justice and fairness or at least understanding, and insuring all are educated, not just your own. To the other side, “liberal” is now an unthinking curse word. Similarly, to me being “conservative” means saving for the future, preserving our infrastructure we have built, honoring our agreements, living within a budget, acting honorably. To those now in power who call themselves “Conservatives,” apparently it means the exact opposite if the budget deficit, the trade deficit, the moral deficit of officeholders, and the refusal to stop burning fossil (i.e. irreplaceable) fuels, to name a few dangerous policies, are representative of their concept of the word.
I wouldn’t mind if it was just the personal assets of the other side that got wasted, but they seem to want to use my relatives in the army, my taxes, my land, and my life to achieve their fixated objectives. Short of jail, involuntary servitude or civil war, I see no way to hold this “marriage” of states and peoples together, not voluntarily anyway, with knowledgeable consent of the governed. Moreover, I frankly don’t want to be around such people and the leaders they worship.
They must fear me given their passage of abominations like the so-called Patriot Act and even FISA which overturn everything that once brought us together as a county. I certainly fear them and their willingness to use any means to accomplish the ends they happen to like.
And no, I don’t want to hear about my “just leaving the country.” It’s been my country too. I earned my Combat Infantry Badge under fire serving my country unlike some others on the other side holding high office. I paid my taxes unlike many of the campaign contributors to those currently in power. I worked hard to develop the assets enjoyed today instead of it being handed to me by inheritance or gift. Consequently, like spouses in a divorce, I believe I am entitled to share in the resulting community property. Let’s split it up.
Let’s have a property settlement. Let’s divide up the country, each to our own. I’ll even be happy to let the other side pick first. Or, we could start flipping coins. I don’t care so long as thereafter I would not be the target of terrorist attack because of our country’s hypocrisy on the Middle East. Plus, I might finally have a chance at a resulting new body politic that will seek armor for its soldiers and health care for its sick and elderly. I might finally have an opportunity to put people in charge who understand that petrochemicals should be available for irreplaceable medicines, plastics, etc. instead of ripping it out of the ground solely to pollute the air. I might have schools that taught the scientific method, not the myths of one specific religion out of the literally thousands of competing sects.
Yes, I would no doubt still have stupid, venal, hard hearted politicians. But, at least I would not feel, as I do now, they were a direct threat to every single thing I hold dear and important.
I would be sorry of course if my Oregon ended up being one of the states with title transferred to the other side, but I will accept that. You can’t always get exactly what you want in a divorce. Besides, it’s better than ending up killing each other in a new “civil” war. And, war it is likely to be if we have a new King George.
I hear that some Christian groups are currently trying to actually separate South Carolina from the rest of the Union. I genuinely hope they succeed in seceding. That means I might have a chance to do the same up here in the Pacific Northwest for exactly the opposite reasons.