Monday, August 14, 2017

The New Face of American Terrorism

My mom and brother live in Charlottesville. 
I've been visiting my family in this town for almost 30 years.
I know it well.
It's quaint, old and reeks of rich southern charm.
You can literally feel the history in the air.
I love it there not just because my family lives there but also because it's really a special place.

Albemarle County is the home of three Presidents, Madison, Monroe and the most well known, of course, Thomas Jefferson.
Once home to the late Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange as well as to authors William Faulkner and John Grisham and all time favorite celeb, Dave Mathews.
I'm sure I forgot someone rich and famous.. but you get the gist... it's lush with rolling countryside, southern, and beautiful.
It's also a bright blue spot politically. 
Charlottesville went for Hillary overwhelmingly in the 2016 election.
Barack Obama snagged the county handily in both 08 and 2012.
It's a pretty progressive town in a traditionally southern state.

A lot has to do with the fact that it's home to the University of Virginia.
Designed by our third President, Jefferson himself.
It's truly an architectural wonder, a masterpiece, with it's signature Rotunda and famous palladium windows.
Prestigious and hard to get into.

The University is the Alma Mater to some other fairly notable attendees, (my own brother), Edgar Allen Poe, the Kennedy bro's (Law School), Tina Fey, Samuel Goldwyn Jr, Katie Couric and more recently Richard Bertrand Spencer, poster Boy for White Nationalism.

Richard Spencer. Born in Boston in 1978. Grew up in Texas.
Has quite a resume for prestigious schools attended. UVA, Duke and University of Chicago.
Smart cookie.
He is a boyish blonde Aryan right out of Hitlers Youth brigade.
I wondered if this was seriously an intentional look. The clean cut all white boyish spokesman for an all white America. It makes perfect sense.
The prepster white supremacist and now head of the Alt Right Movement that has been mainstreamed by Brietbart and the internet.
Did I mention he's a friend of Stephen Miller?
Of course he is.
Read this interview by his former classmate and  Atlantic writer, Graeme Wood to get a glimpse of what this cocky, clean cut Nazi sympathizer is all about.

It hurt to see the live images Sunday morning of protests gone violent in a place so familiar to me as my own home. 
Nazis, White Supremacists, Confederates, White Nationalists, Southern Priders, homegrown militias- all the regular uglies coming out to protest the removal of one fucking statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee.

Unite the Right, with its Nazi like propaganda posters, planned this rally to protest because, well, it's a free country, and in a free society, like it or not, hate speech is protected.

The organizer, Jason Kessler, self proclaimed white nationalist and local activist in Charlottesville, had a bee in his bonnet for a long time about the "liberals' plotting  the removal of the Robert E Lee statue.
Jason is a slippery character with a laundry list of less than flattering virtues.
He was convicted in 2005 for shoplifting, obstructing justice and for a string of failures to appear and register, in addition to numerous traffic violations and citations.
He helped to unseat the only black City Council member by exposing his racist tweets toward whites.
He's a real piece of far right work and it has been his mission to launch a campaign on liberal Charlottesville.

The rally was organized to protest the removal of a Confederate statue- as now the Confederacy apparently has come to define the Alt Right. 
The Civil War.  The side that lost and the side that fought to keep slaves. The South will rise again and so will an all white America.
The conflict that divided a fairly new nation and has plagued our country ever since.
Here we are in 2017 never coming to terms with the legacy of the Civil War. ...and all that it stood for.

The fact Nazi's and White Nationalists, and the KKK have been allowed to spew their hateful message for decades in the US- isn't new.
What is new is the level of which these groups are now emboldened to proudly display their hate and discrimination.
Which brings me to our new President and how he single handedly opened the door wide to these groups and gave them a literal seat at the table. If his campaign didn't bring it to our attention the appointment to positions within the White House itself certainly does.

Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and ex Breitbart British born/Hungarian tied, least of all American-  loathsome creature, Sebastian Gorka. 
Gorka's own mother was a Holocaust denier and apparently he has his own connections to a Hungarian Nazi organization.
Miller is the sole architect of the Anti Immigration policy, with a few racist skeleton's in his youthful closet.
A Santa Monica high school video that has been circulating on social media prove he was a racist in his teens after apparently being enlightened to the far right reading of NRA Wayne LaPierre's book.

Bannon the Breibart former editor whiz kid, a freak of biblical proportion with his apocalyptic view of the global order.
The fact he boasted that the dark side especially being like Satan is "power" should make anyone even a atheist tremble in their boots.
How can these guys even be allowed to work in the US Government helping to form American policy? These men are part of a broader Neo Fascist far right movement. They literally want to dismantle the US government.
It's mind blowing. And Trump has surrounded himself with these types of guys and who knows how many others..

A young woman died Sunday in Charlottesville, Virginia. Senselessly and tragically.
Simply for showing up to protest, exercising the epitome of being "American" and motivated by what she felt was injustice and hate.
Lots of people were hurt and injured.
A town is reeling in shock and will never be the same.
Videos of a black man encircled and beaten by Neo-Nazis in a parking garage.
Chants against gays and Jews captured on iPhones, Nazi salutes and "Heil Trumps.
And then, there was the kid who intentionally plowed his vehicle, Isis style, into a crowd of peaceful protesters killing 32 year old Heather Heyer.

For all the talk of Muslim terrorists, yesterday we witnessed one of our own from middle America-  Kentucky or Ohio and learned that white polo shirts and khakis are the new Robes of White Nationalism.
The most ironic thing that struck me was that these groups claim their right to march and rally, boasting that hate is protected under the free speech under the First amendment- and they are right..
But the groups they rally against and target their hate toward also have the right to protest the very hate that is protected. Kind of a cluster fuck of "rights" if you think about it too long.

In America you have the right to be a bigot and hate others but when the right to hate turns violent and murderous, then you lose that right.
Why is it necessary to wait until it turns violent and murderous?

Trumps comments on the events of yesterday were lame, weak and reflective of an empty moral compass- of the man himself. They lacked genuine compassion, appeared to be read off a card handed to him and did not call out those who profess hate and perpetuated the violence of the day.
His ambiguity was shameful.
A bigot and a racist who is a weakling when standing up for true justice.  
A man who couldn't and didn't condemn hatred, Nazi's, and racism from the power and privilege of the Oval Office. Or just a con man eyeing his re election and not wanting to throw the ugliest part of his base overboard.
Either way, it's disgusting. It's immoral and most of all it simply lacks the American leadership we have come to expect out of our President.

Today after two days he delivered the words we expected to hear, read off a tele prompter with the same lack of compassion and  lack of genuine affect.
A little too late will now go down in history.

I was repulsed by his campaign and I'm repelled at his lack of moral leadership as President.
I reminisced about Obama and what he would say on a day like Sunday.
Even George Bush who had the agonizing burden of 9/11 under his watch could address a country hurting.
What Obama did in fact tweet, was Nelson Mandala's words about the learning to hate and the teaching of love..a simple, yet profound message that put a comforting arm around the horror of the day.
When will enough be enough? When will those in government realize this man is no leader and isn't fit to lead no matter how many votes he barely garnished?
What will it take for the Republicans to stand up for common decency? 
When will they stand up for their countrymen instead of their shallow political party?
When will those realize he is doing dangerous damage to our unity?
Will it be after another Charlotteville? 

The ugliest in society have always existed, but they have remained in the shadows of the dark until now.
Sadly, Donald Trump has shined a beam of light on them to be plainly seen.
When will be enough?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

"I Fit The Description"

This was posted by friend of a friend. Sometimes reading the personal experience of a black man in America hits the heart and brain. Everyone should read this and I hope every heart and brain are struck with a pain. My heart is broken.

I'm not a man nor a black one. I will never experience walking down the street in my own country and have police stop me based on my white skin. I will never "fit the description" based soley on my skin color (much less a homemade knit hat).

I was born right smack in the middle of the civil rights era. Civil Unrest. Chicago in the 60's defines civil unrest.
My mother and step dad and their activist friend's fought the good fight on many fronts. The Vietnam War, workers rights, mostly Civil Rights. The black man's issues were at the forefront. Hand in hand were corrupt politicians and corrupt police. Chicago has ALWAYS had corruption when it comes to these two entities; especially in regard to social injustice toward the black man from these very entities. My family was in the thick of this fight.

Some of their friends were Black Panthers. Some were hippies. Most were political activists and Organizers.
I remember the gatherings, always clad with good food, good drink, great music, (often good weed) and lively discussions. I remember the marches and rallies.
I remember the righteous anger most in the grown ups around me. I admired and loved the diverse racial group that exposed me to politics and fighting for social justice.
Fighting for things that were bigger than themselves. They helped shape who I am today and I am so proud of them.

I grew up where the fist salute, Power to the People, was more than just familiar to me; it was symbolic of grave injustice.  Injustice was the word of the day. IT was the fight to be fought.
Looking back I always felt incredibly proud that my upbringing was alongside of a movement that was on the right side of history.
As I came of age I believed I truly "felt" the progress our country had made around me. All that Civil Rights unrest "stuff" was in the past. We as a country had moved forward. Affirmative Action was in place and we were seeing the benefits.  More black kids were being educated. The Voting Rights Act was in place and from my naive perspective a whole generation of African Americans were finally reaping the good deeds of those who came before me living in a better society of equality and justice for all.
Tolerance was everywhere.
 I  assumed that racism was a dim uglism of the past. I naively assumed the black man had made great strides and I went about my growing up believing America was such a progressive country. A country that could realize it's wrongs, truly reflect, and take action to make amends. A country when citizens take part and fight for change it will come. That America was the best in "goodness" despite the sins of our past.
I felt blessed and proud of my elders; righteous people who made a difference.
They did make a difference.

It's a weird conversation to have because in many ways the black man has made strides, right?
How else can we reconcile that America voted for a black man twice to the Presidency?
This was the ultimate defining moment in illustrating that progress made.
That night in 2008, fucking history was made. I stood with my youngest daughter and fellow Organizers in Southeastern Ohio weeping for joy as Obama took the stage in my hometown of Chicago. Barack Obama himself articulated that point about progress as well in his speech that night. He was the living proof of history living it.

Only in "America" could we overcome such a shameful past and make it all color blind and right with the election of Barack Obama. Americans saw past Obama's color and funny name; instead they saw his elegant and brilliant mind. Only in America, a country founded on such awe inspiring principles, could reach this kind of greatness. Who didn't "feel" it?
 Later, standing in DC at Obama's inauguration surrounded with what felt like every single African American in the city I felt it once more. The light in their eyes, the sense of pride, the whole body feeling of hope and vindication in their stature. I cried as I reflected on my upbringing and the folks who helped to make this day even possible.
History was indeed fucking made. How bloody far we had we come.
A country that once enslaved the black man just elected the black man to the highest office in the land. IT was the wowiest of wow moments. The stuff of greatness you read in history books that give you the chills- happening in real time.

Well, we have lived the new "wow" over the past 8 years and what we have realized is that all of those steps in progress were very small steps forward indeed, including even, Barack Obama's Presidency.
The election of  Obama was a momentary euphoric blip in the true reality for African Americans.
If anything the election of Barack Obama revealed stunningly all too clear what has always existed regarding the true "reality" of being a black man in America and sadly that reality has never left our society. And it's still as ugly now as 50 years ago.

Even the profound election of the first black man as President; a mere tiny motion forward compared to the everyday reality of a black man walking down the street on his way to grab a burrito before he goes to work as a Professor at a college.

In my life thus far, born into the tumultuous era of MLK, all of the important progress that was made is now suffering giant leaps backward. Voting Rights.  Now? Systematic efforts and laws already enacted to roll back those same voting rights. The stepped up racial profiling, the increase in Police murdering black men and the institutionalized racism that has always existed in Police Precincts across our country has now reared it's ugly head only now because of the help of social media. That same social media has also provided a huge platform for bigotry and racism to be spewed out front and center in ways like never before.

The mood feels like it did back when I was a kid. The vibe much different though -and this time I'm not a wide eyed child simply observing my elders. I am the elder- and I am heartbroken.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We are United.

Dear Governor Ted Strickland,

I fell in love with your state... twice actually.. once back in 08 and again in the 2010 midterm election.

I was touched profoundly by the many people I met as I organized tirelessly on your behalf throughout my rural counties I was in charge of.

The average citizens of Southeastern Ohio..teachers, steel workers, pipe fitters, store clerks..students .. all wonderful hardworking people.
People that are the very fabric of working America.

You know we tried..we poured our hearts and soul and all of our energy into your re election..WE believed you were the best man to govern Ohio. You are. I am so sorry for how things turned out.

The voters wouldn't believe us when we told them what they were in for with Kasich at the helm..even Labor seemed to have lost their zeal and appeared to not grasp the urgency of winning your campaign and what it meant for the future of Ohio.

and now look at what's happening.. it started in Wisconsin..and is now spreading to other states..including your own- Ohio.

When you came to say thank you and good bye to all of us at the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in said it. You called these radical extreme right wingers like Scott Walker and John Kasich "crazies".. and since you are a Psychologist..I knew you knew what you were talking about. It wasn't some off the cuff political rhetoric or attack.. it was TRUE. And now these "crazies" are injuring our country in dangerous ways..and there are a whole lot of folks that just aren't "getting" that.

I know Ohio is suffering without your leadership and you must be feeling a bit sad... you must be thinking "I told you so.." but sometimes it takes a wake up call to get people moved to action..and it appears this Senate bill 5 may just be that wake up call.
Maybe the people will finally "get" it. And victory will be won in defeating this extreme piece of Legislation.

I mean..this isn't just about balancing the budget and making up a shortfall..this is a purposeful break the backs of organized Labor, to cripple the middle working class and further the prosperity of a select few.

Among the changes to this 27-year-old collective bargaining law, Senate Bill 5 would base pay raises on merit – instead of automatic increases – and eliminate layoff protection for the longest-serving union workers. Police and firefighters, who cannot strike, would lose binding arbitration to resolve disputes. The bill would weaken bargaining for teachers and other local union members and make them pay a larger share of health insurance premiums.

This bill would take away the rights of tens of thousands AFSCME members to negotiate for wages, health care, sick leave, dental, and other benefits.

I know you stand with the common worker in Ohio.. that you are one of them...and how very proud you are of those Police, Firefighters and teachers. I also know what kind of decent man you are and how you won't ever stop fighting for what is right and fair..

I heard you gave a great speech that inspired the protesters at the Ohio Statehouse yesterday.

I wasn't there but I can only imagine how much it boosted their spirits and solidarity! I have heard you speak and I know how you inspired me.
Please continue to move and cheer on the good citizens of Ohio. They need you more than ever!

You said you and Frances will work hard to help President Obama get re-elected..I am thanking you now because I know you worry about the state of our country as a whole. And Ohio is so important for 2012.

I am sorry that you aren't the standing Governor in Ohio at this important time..but there is always reasons we may not understand for things turning out as they do.. I think you said that ...and what is happening in Wisconsin, Ohio and now all across the country may be necessary to make people realize what is finally at stake. And it's comforting to know you will be on the fighting lines!

We are strong. We are united.

Tracie Snyder

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It was always about Race from the very beginning......

This truly says it like it is..thank you Bob!

The Tea Party Is All About Race

Bob Cesca

Political Writer, Blogger, and New Media Producer
Posted: March 3, 2010 01:38 PM

I was going to open this piece with an analogy about the tea party groups and why they're treated seriously by the press and the Republicans. The analogy would go something like: "Imagine [insert left-wing activist group here] getting a serious profile in a mainstream newspaper, and imagine serious Democratic politicians appearing at their convention."

The problem is, when I really evaluated what the various far-left activist groups are all about and compared them with the tea party movement, there really wasn't any equivalency. At all.

Because when you strip away all of the rage, all of the nonsensical loud noises and all of the contradictions, all that's left is race. The tea party is almost entirely about race, and there's no comparative group on the left that's similarly motivated by bigotry, ignorance and racial hatred.

I hasten to note that I'm talking about real racism, insofar as it's impossible for the majority race -- the 70 percent white majority -- to be on the receiving end of racism. That is unless white males, for example, are suddenly an oppressed racial demographic. But judging by the racial composition of, say, the Senate or AM talk radio or the cast members playing the Obamas on SNL, I don't think white people have anything to worry about.

This isn't an epiphany by any stretch. From the beginning, with their witch doctor imagery, watermelon agitprop and Curious George effigies, the wingnut right has been dying to blurt out, as Lee Atwater famously said, "nigger, nigger, nigger!"

But they can't.

Strike that. Correction. founder Dale Robertson brandished a sign with the (misspelled) word "niggar." So they're not even as restrained as the generally unstrung Atwater anymore.

Most of the time, they merely imply the use of the word. Rush Limbaugh referring to the president as a "black man-child," for example. Every week, a new example pops up on the radio and somehow the offenders are able to keep their job while Howard Stern is fined for saying the comparatively innocuous word "blumpkin." Limbaugh, on the other hand, can stoke racial animosity on his show by suggesting that health care reform is a civil rights bill -- reparations -- and no one seems to mind. And no, the impotence isn't an adequate Karmic punishment for Limbaugh's roster of trespasses.

The tea party is an extension of talk radio. It's an extension of Fox News Channel. It's an extension of the southern faction of the Republican Party -- the faction that gave us the Southern Strategy, the Willie Horton ad, the White Hands ad and the racially divisive politics of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. It's an extension of the race-baiting and, often, the outright racism evident in all of those conservative spheres.

But unlike the heavy-handedness of Dale Robertson and others, the tea party followers are generally more veiled about why they're so outraged by our current president.

In the New York Times this past weekend, David Barstow profiled a teabagger from Idaho:

SANDPOINT, Idaho -- Pam Stout has not always lived in fear of her government. She remembers her years working in federal housing programs, watching government lift struggling families with job training and education. She beams at the memory of helping a Vietnamese woman get into junior college.

But all that was before the Great Recession and the bank bailouts, before Barack Obama took the White House by promising sweeping change on multiple fronts, before her son lost his job and his house. Mrs. Stout said she awoke to see Washington as a threat, a place where crisis is manipulated -- even manufactured -- by both parties to grab power.

Now you might be saying to yourself, I don't see the racism here. But if you eliminate all of the reasons for Stout's participation in the tea party movement as being contradictory or nonsensical, all that's left is race.

Let's deconstruct.

She claims to be against the bank bailouts, but the tea party is against the president's bank fee designed to recover the TARP money. They also appear to be against financial regulatory reform. None of this makes any sense. If tea partiers are against the bailouts, basic logic dictates that they ought to be in favor of getting the money back. Or do they prefer that the banks keep the money and orchestrate further meltdowns? Honestly, I'm not even entirely sure they realize that the bailouts and the recovery act (stimulus) are two different things. But they're also against the recovery act -- you know, whatever that is.

She also told the New York Times that she's tired of politicians "manufacturing crisis."

Right. Three things here.

First, where was she -- where were the teabaggers -- when the far-right endorsed and supported a massive increase in the size of government, unitary executive power grabs and unconstitutional measures fueled by fear-mongering over the very remote threat of terrorism? Crickets chirping. The odds of being killed in an airborne terrorist attack are literally 1 in 10 million. You're much more likely to kill yourself than to be killed by a terrorist.

Second, I refuse to believe that health care is a "manufactured crisis." People are going broke and dying every day. Even the most conservative estimates show that there are 9/11-level casualties each month due to a lack of adequate health insurance. The horror stories are readily available online. Just Google "health insurance horror story" and see how manufactured the crisis is.

Third, look at any bar graph of the economy as of one year ago or any basic jobs number and tell me if the crisis is manufactured. Hell, Pam Stout's son lost his house! How can she possibly suggest the economic crisis was manufactured?

I hate to single out one person, but Stout's incongruous anger is indicative of the entire movement.

From the outset, the tea party was based on a contradictory premise (the original tea party was a protest against a corporate tax cut). And when you throw out all of the nonsense and contradictions, there's nothing left except race. There's no other way to explain why these people were silent and compliant for so long, and only decided to collectively freak out when this "foreign" and "exotic" president came along and, right out of the chute, passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history -- something they would otherwise support, for goodness sake, it was $288 billion in tax cuts! -- we're left to deduce no other motive but the ugly one that lurks just beneath the pale flesh, the tri-corner hats and the dangly tea bag ornamentation.

Irrespective of whether the president passed a huge tax cut or went out of his way to bring Republicans into the health care process, the seeds of racial animosity from the far-right were sown during the campaign. In those lines waiting for then-vice presidential candidate and current tea party heroine Sarah Palin, their loud noises spread the pre-scripted lies, lies that entirely hinged on the president's African heritage. A white candidate would never be accused of being a secret Muslim. A white candidate would never be accused of being a foreign usurper. Only a black candidate with a foreign name would be accused of "palling around with domestic terrorists."

In the final analysis, when you boil away all of the weirdness, it becomes clear that the teabaggers are pissed because there isn't yet another doddering old white guy in the White House -- like they're used to. That's what this is all about.

By way of a postscript, one of the many faceless radio talk show wingnuts, Jim Quinn, this week called President Obama a "Kenyan wuss" who should be "slapped silly." The Kenyan lie and the "slap silly" insult aside, this president is no wuss. You know how I know? He's a black man who ran for president and won despite the growing mob of gun-toting militant white bigots like Jim Quinn who are sucking air in America. President Obama achieving this despite the hatred and threats against him takes serious guts. Guts that Jim Quinn and the tea party movement will never understand.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

State of the Union

Tonight the President speaks to the nation.. I don't envy him...hopefully he will explain a few things.. the endless war, the Health Care debacle, the national debt, but most importantly I hope he addresses the economy- and perhaps he will explain what the hell he is thinking by implementing a spending freeze....?

I feel his pain...passionately...I mean Barack's getting pretty beat up these days and not just by the usual suspects over at FOX, but by his own supporters. The frustration and anger felt by so many of his base has reached a crescendo. He must be feeling pretty lonely. I wouldn't want to be standing in his shoes and by the looks at how grey the guy's become - you know it's a stressful job.

The White House is really freaking out. The fact they made a big fancy announcement that Campaign Genius, David Plouffe is back on the job. Where has he been? Oh, writing a book....

This administration's low approval numbers, the election in Mass, and whispers everywhere you turn how the base is slipping away, even the exchange between Ed Schultz and Robert Gibbs the other day ending in a few choice "cuss words" must have unnerved the powers that be.
Hopefully, David will whip their image back into shape..if it's not too late...

None of this is good or can be good, though when so many threw their hopes, dreams and confidence into this wonder boy and his people..and speaking as one who gave her heart to help win the Presidency for Barack... I admit..I'm depressed, discouraged and yes, disappointed.

It's not that I don't realize what a difficult job this man inherited..I mean could Jesus himself take over after the last atrocious 8 years and "fix" things? I doubt it.

It's complex, there are so many players, all vying for their piece of the power pie, the Military Industrial Complex, The daycare of Congress and the Senate, the special interests, Corporate America... to name a few.

I have defended my new President at every turn because let's face it these problems aren't his fault. This disastrous economy took us 60 some years to get to this place.. and with that mighty extra thrust from George Bush Jr...things got really f'ed up. It's a mess and not an easy one to clean up. Perhaps it's high time we re-evaluate the benefits of the free market? Just a suggestion.

Logic dictates one man can't miraculously change things overnight... it's hard work and change takes time.... time....
and all of those out of work folks I met firsthand in Ohio? Well, the jobs of yesteryear are gone and they aren't coming back..and it's going to take time before wind turbines can be manufactured in your empty factories..and never mind China making them so cheap now...

So okay..while all these things are true..the reason I'm so let down?

It's just that I BELIEVED in Barack and the things he said during the campaign. Remember the massive crowds? The unprecedented amount of young people? The energy? The excitement? The HOPE? Was it just so bad with Bush that we overcompensated with our zeal?

I believed in this man enough to leave my family for months, go to Ohio and work tirelessly for the guy. I believed that he was that unique man.. that would stand up to the way things were done in Washington. That he was unconventional enough. Smart enough. Charming enough... young and healthy enough... remember that line? "we are the ones we have been waiting for" god that was the essence of the movement. It was real, alive and we were behind him ready to bring real change to our country.

I believed Barack had it all... the whole politician, good character, diverse background..he was all of us, black white, poor rich... those unique combination of characteristics to honestly relate to all Americans.The fact that he was so inspiring alone would create the change we needed. And ..I hoped he would be instrumental in healing our country from the near fatal wound of the Bush administration. To be fair he has done that.

But then he got into office..and got sucked into the insular politics of Washington that tend to smother and stifle ...surrounded himself with ex- Clinton "politicians" who seem more concerned with the next election cycle.....than "Change". That inspiration, and charisma seemed to fade. The speeches, though good weren't cosmic any longer. Yes, he's just a mere mortal man. A mere politician.

I'm aware that running a campaign is not the same as running the country..but what happened to all those innovative snazzy cutting edge youth that were going to bring to the White House, this new sense of efficiency, transparency, and a fresh way of doing business? Perhaps he should have hired all those kids instead of those ex- Clinton folks.

And what the hell happened to that state of the art PR? It was so signature of the campaign? Now? They have let Fox News run wild with the message....

Then there is the war....Barack was one of six senators who voted against the war initially...and ran his campaign as the true anti- war candidate.

Jobs, jobs, jobs... so how come this administration has aligned itself so closely with Wall Street who keeps flourishing and getting their obscene bonus's when more and more average Jane's are losing their homes and jobs? Remember that nifty movie on Capitalism by Mike Moore?

So tonight the Pres gives his State of the Union address..I will be listening I always do. Let's hope there are no inappropriate outbursts... from the Peanut Gallery.

But this time I will be listening a bit more halfheartedly... I'm hanging on..I'm trying....I haven't given up all hope....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Glenn Greenwald on Blaming the Left.

As the bloggers go ape shit... and Op-eds are teeming this morning with analysis of "what went wrong for the Dems" after yesterday's special election in Massachusetts..Glenn Greenwald offers a great defense of the left- to the left. Not to leave the Right out of it..but their consensus from the get go to be the "Party of NO" and unworkable comes as no surprise as they smugly celebrate Brown's victory.

Worth reading....

Blame the all-powerful left!


(updated below - Update II)

I have a contribution this morning to the New York Times examining the Scott Brown victory, and I'll post the link to it once it's up. But for the moment, I want to address two equally moronic themes emerging over the last couple of days which seek to blame the omnipotent, dominant, super-human "Left" for the Democrats' woes -- one coming from right-wing Democrats and the other from hard-core Obama loyalists (those two categories are not mutually exclusive but, rather, often overlap).

Last night, Evan Bayh blamed the Democrats' problems on "the furthest left elements," which he claims dominates the Democratic Party -- seriously. And in one of the dumbest and most dishonest Op-Eds ever written, Lanny Davis echoes that claim in The Wall St. Journal: "Blame the Left for Massachusetts" (Davis attributes the unpopularity of health care reform to the "liberal" public option and mandate; he apparently doesn't know that the health care bill has no public option [someone should tell him], that the public option was one of the most popular provisions in the various proposals, and the "mandate" is there to please the insurance industry, not "the Left," which, in the absence of a public option, hates the mandate; Davis' claim that "candidate Obama's health-care proposal did not include a public option" is nothing short of an outright lie).

In what universe must someone be living to believe that the Democratic Party is controlled by "the Left," let alone "the furthest left elements" of the Party? As Ezra Klein says, the Left "ha[s] gotten exactly nothing they wanted in recent months." The Left wanted a single-payer system, then settled for a public option, then an opt-out public option, then Medicare expansion -- only to get none of it, instead being handed a bill that forces every American to buy health insurance from the private insurance industry. Nor was it "the Left" -- but rather corporatist Democrats like Evan Bayh and Lanny Davis -- who cheered for the hated Wall Street bailout; blocked drug re-importation; are stopping genuine reform of the financial industry; prevented a larger stimulus package to lower unemployment; refuse to allow programs to help Americans with foreclosures; supported escalation in Afghanistan (twice); and favor the same Bush/Cheney terrorism policies of indefinite detention, military commissions, and state secrets.

The very idea that an administration run by Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel and staffed with centrists, Wall Street mavens, and former Bush officials -- and a Congress beholden to Blue Dogs and Lieberdems -- has been captive "to the Left" is so patently false that everyone should be too embarrassed to utter it. For better or worse, the Democratic strategy has long been and still is to steer clear of their leftist base and instead govern as "pragmatists" and centrists -- which means keeping the permanent Washington factions pleased. That strategy may or not be politically shrewd, but it is just a fact that the dreaded "Left" has gotten very little of what it wanted the entire year. Is there anyone who actually believes that "The Left" is in control of anything, let alone the Democratic Party? The fact that Lanny Davis -- to prove the Left's dominance -- has to cite one provision that was jettisoned (the public option) and another which the Left hates (the mandate) reflects how false that claim is. What are all of the Far Left policies the Democrats have been enacting and Obama has been advocating? I'd honestly love to know.

And then there is the "Blame the Left" theme from Obama loyalists, who actually claim that the Democrats' problems are due to the fact that the Left hasn't been cheering loudly enough for the Leader. I recall quite vividly how Bush followers spent years claiming that the failings of the Iraq War were not the fault of George Bush -- who had control of the entire war, the entire Congress, and the power to do everything he wanted -- but, rather, it was all "the Left's" fault for excessively criticizing the President, and thus weakening both him and the war effort.

To insist that the Democratic Party's failures are not the fault of Barack Obama -- who controls the entire party infrastructure, its agenda, the news cycle, and the health care plan -- we now hear from Obama supporters a similar claim: it's all the Left's fault for excessively criticizing the Leader. A couple of days ago, Josh Marshall promoted -- and Kevin Drum endorsed -- a post that made this claim:

And we can look no further than Howard Dean, and MSNBC, and Arianna Huffington, and, yes, some columnists at the Times and bloggers here at TPM--you know, real progressives--who have lambasted Obama again and again since last March over arguable need-to-haves like the "public option," as if nobody else was listening. They've been thinking: "Oh, if only we ran things, how much more subtle would the legislation be," as if 41 senators add up to subtle. Meanwhile the undecideds are thinking: "Hell, if his own people think he's a sell-out and jerk, why should we support this?"

The reason "the Left" criticized the Iraq War was because . . . they thought it was a bad thing and thus opposed it. The reason some on the Left have been criticizing the health care plan and other Obama policies (the ones I listed above) is because . . . they think they're bad things and thus oppose them. For instance, health care opponents believe that forcing Americans to buy private insurance that they can't afford and/or do not want is bad policy and will harm the Democrats politically. That's what rational citizens do: they support proposals that they think are good and oppose the ones they think are bad. What are people on "the Left" supposed to do: go on television and into their columns and lie by pretending they support things that they actually oppose, all in order to sustain high levels of affection and excitement for Barack Obama? Someone who would do that is what we call a dishonest propagandist and party loyalist, and, in any event, is unlikely to have any credibility with anyone beyond already-converted, fellow Obama admirers.

A political party is actually much healthier and stronger when criticisms of the Leader are permitted. Ask the Republicans circa 2005 and 2006 about how a party fares when party-loyalty and leader-loyalty trump all other considerations. Moreover, if a political party adopts a strategy of ignoring its base, as the Democrats routinely do, it's an inevitable cost that the base will become dispirited and unmotivated. As Darcy Burner put it yesterday: "Perhaps if the Democratic base doesn't show up to elect Coakley, party leadership should consider *trying to appeal* to the base." There's a reason it's called "the base" -- it's because it's the foundation of the party -- and, as the Republicans never forget, there is a serious cost to ignoring or spurning them.

As I note in my NYT contribution today, the reasons for the Democrats' failings generally -- and the Scott Brown victory specifically -- are complex, and shouldn't be simplified in order to declare vindication for pre-existing beliefs (Obama loyalists: it was all about Coakley!; right-wing Democrats: it's all the Left's fault!; Republicans: it's a rejection of liberalism!). But whatever else is true, the Left, as usual, has very little power, both within the Party and in general. Blaming them for the Democrats' failings is about as rational as the 2006 attempt to blame them for the collapsing Iraq War. The Left is many things; "dominant within the Democratic Party and our political discourse" is not one of them.

* * * * *

All that said, and as horrible as the Democrats have been all year, the most amazing -- and depressing -- aspect of all of this is how Americans have so quickly forgotten how thoroughly the Republicans, during their eight-year reign, destroyed the country. Whatever the source of our national woes are, re-empowering that faction cannot possibly be the answer to anything.

UPDATE: The NYT forum on last night's election is here; my contribution is currently at the top.

UPDATE II: Noting that even reasonable conservatives like Stephen Bainbridge are saying things like: "Obama and the Congressional Democrats (especially in the House) governed for the last year as though the median voter is a Daily Kos fan," Andrew Sullivan writes:

This must come as some surprise to most Daily Kos fans. But if one had traveled to Mars and back this past year and read this statement, what would you assume had happened? I would assume that the banks had been nationalized, the stimulus was twice as large, that single-payer healthcare had been pushed through on narrow majority votes, that card-check had passed, that an immigration amnesty had been legislated, that prosecutions of Bush and Cheney for war crimes would be underway, that withdrawal from Afghanistan would be commencing, that no troops would be left in Iraq, that Larry Tribe was on the Supreme Court, that DADT and DOMA would be repealed, and so on.

Exactly. Of course, none of those things has happened, precisely because the Democrats under Obama (and before) have been doing everything except "governing from the Left." But our political discourse, as usual, is so suffuse with blinding stupidity that this clichéd falsehood -- Democrats have been beholden to the Left -- will take root as Unchallengeable Truth and shape what happens next. That's already happening.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day!

Today is Martin Luther King Day, where we pay tribute to this great man..and in a couple of days we will mark Obama's first year in office as the first African American President. Pretty cool!

Whatever your feeling about the job the President has done so far or currently is doing this- fact alone is amazing! Huh?

Thought I would post a great article from The Nation on how Martin Luther King Jr. and President Obama are similar but very different!

How Barack Obama is like Martin Luther King, Jr.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's historic "I have a dream" speech. He was inaugurated the day after our national holiday celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. King. Many asked if Obama's presidency was the realization of King's dream. Cultural products, from t-shirts to YouTube videos, linked Obama's election to King's legacy.

Some observers have made far less complimentary comparisons between the men. Some self-professed keepers of King's legacy have insisted that Barack Obama is embarrassingly anemic on issues of race. Remembering King as an uncompromising paragon of progressive politics, these "black leaders" judge Obama as a wishy-washy sell-out, unwilling to stand firm for his constituency.

This sentiment was perfectly captured last week in the outrageous comments of African American Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson. Lost in the din surrounding Harry Reid's "Negro dialect" comments and Rush Limbaugh's scandalous tirade about Haiti, was Dyson's assertion that "Barack Obama runs from race like a black man runs from a cop."

Dyson's comment is both offensive -to President Obama and to black men in general- and false- no other American presidential candidate paused in the middle of a campaign to deliver an exquisite commentary on race. Still, Dyson's sentiment is indicative of a small, but vocal group of black public intellectuals who have regularly criticized Obama during his campaign and his presidency.

Often comparing Obama explicitly to Dr. King, they conclude the President lacks the moral courage or Leftist determination of the civil rights icon.

I disagree. Barack Obama is stunningly similar to Martin Luther King, Jr., but to see this similarity we must relinquish the false, reconstructed memories of perfection we currently project onto King.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a political philosopher and dedicated freedom fighter, but he was also a pragmatic political strategist. Seen through the perfecting lens of martyrdom, King appears to be to be an uncompromising progressive leader, undeterred by seemingly insurmountable challenges, willing to risk all to achieve the goals of his movement.

To see King exclusively in these terms requires active, willful revision of history. In his political work, King was surprisingly like President Obama. And I don't mean the oratory.

Consider this. Martin Luther King Jr. turned his back on Bayard Rustin. Rustin was his dear friend and trusted advisor. Rustin was the architect of the March on Washington. A fierce, lifelong pacifist, Rustin shepherded a young King through his first non-violent, direct action protests. Without Rustin there would have been no March on Washington and no national audience for the articulation of King's great dream.

Yet when he was pressed, Martin Luther King Jr. eventually disavowed Rustin and ejected him from the movement. Rustin asked King for his support, but King turned his back on Rustin. King rejected Rustin because Rustin was gay and socialist.

Faced with the political realities of homophobia and America's red scare, King chose to silence Rustin. King decided defending Rustin would distract the movement from its central goal of achieving an end to racial segregation.

Consider this. Martin Luther King, Jr. undercut the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party.

Black, rural laborers in Mississippi endured brutal beatings, death threats, loss of property, and exile from their homes because they wanted to vote. Despite these dangers, they formed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Under the leadership of Fannie Lou Hamer they brought a delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1964. There they demanded to be recognized and seated in protest of the racial disfranchisement in their state. Hamer's testimony before the DNC credentials committee remains a powerful witness to the brutal conditions black Americans faced in their struggle for first class citizenship.

It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who brokered a deal with the Democratic leadership that cut Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democrats out of the Mississippi delegation. King knew that Johnson still needed the Southern segregationists to hold the majority. King needed Johnson to pass civil rights legislation. Johnson needed the Southerners to get elected. So King undercut Hamer. It was a strategic calculation.

Consider this. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked closely with many African American women, but staunchly refused to address gender equality as part of the larger movement for civil rights.

Women like Ella Baker, Diane Nash, Daisy Bates and Fannie Lou Hamer are dimly remembered compared to the shining beacon of King's legacy. This invisibility of women activists is neither accidental nor inevitable. Despite his sweeping, visionary, social theorizing, King had surprisingly little imagination about how the extraordinary women in the movement could share leadership and accolades with the male leaders. He often relegated his women peers to supporting roles and backstage efforts. King refused to publicly address gender discrimination and often argued that women's issues were distracting to the work of civil rights.

Deriding King and his legacy is not my goal in retelling these stories. We must remember that Martin Luther King was no earthbound deity, fearlessly pursuing an uncompromising agenda; he was a strategic political leader. He was a realist whose choices were often upsetting and unpalatable to those on his left.

Martin Luther King Jr's charismatic, audacious, courageous leadership dramatically altered the trajectory of American history. His leadership lasted just over a decade. In that decade he helped bring to fruition more than a century of struggle first inaugurated when black persons became free people in the United States. No personal or political shortcoming can erase or even tarnish King's contributions.

Remembering King's own strategic choices is not an apologia for President Obama. Barack Obama's legacy will ultimately rise and fall on the strength of his own accomplishments, not primarily on his comparative skill relative to other leaders. But a more clear-eyed assessment of King should make us more careful about how we judge our own imperfect President as he navigates his own complicated historical moment.

Barack Obama is not the leader of a progressive social movement; he is the president. As president he is both more powerful than Dr. King and more structurally constrained. He has more institutional power at his disposal and more crosscutting constituencies demanding his attention. He has more powerful allies and more powerful opponents.

We remember King as the beloved and revered leader of a nation-changing movement. We forget that King was widely criticized during his life. The American media derided this Nobel Peace Prize recipient for speaking out against the Vietnam War. Many argued King had overreached and had little right to weigh in on international matters. Despite braving vicious attacks, unfair incarceration, and attempts on his life, many young leaders mocked King for being insufficiently radical, overly tied to existing institutions, and inadequately brave in the face of racial attacks. One of the most gifted speakers of any age, in the final months of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. had trouble filling an auditorium for a public address.

I have criticisms of President Obama. He has not sufficiently championed the basic civil rights of LGBT Americans. He has escalated rather than ended our country's war effort. His health care initiative is not going to include a public option. But I am grateful that extraordinary change can be achieved even through imperfect leadership.

I see King in Obama: a leader who is imperfectly, but wholeheartedly groping toward better and fairer solutions for our nation.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I have a question..or two....

I have a question or two for my "conservative" friends.

Since when did they begin to allow their tv pundits and talk radio guru's to represent them? To be their mouthpiece... And secondly when did conservative and the religious right become the antithesis of love, compassion, acceptance and Holiness? At least in the public forum. And thirdly where are those who make up half the country in the conservative movement to push back loudly and boldly against this type of behavior and rhetoric?

It really stumps me. Truly. As I listened to the outrageous remarks by Evangelist and 700 Club Pat Robertson, on Haiti..and then to Rush Limbaugh having the fucking, yes FUCKING audacity to seize upon the tragedy in Haiti only to politicize and attack our current President defies all reasonable and rational intellect. Not to mention ... defies the basic humanity we all share in moments like these. When the world's citizens actually put aside their conflicts and differences to come together in a show of extraordinary compassion and concern. I guess hundreds of thousands of Haitians that are dead and suffering don't qualify for a nanosecond of..hmmnnn... compassion on Rush Limbaugh's radio program. Where is the love? Certainly not in any fiber of Rush Limbaugh's, sorry ass of a body. Perhaps all that Oxycontin stripped away the last vestige of warmth and humanness from his tiny heart....

As far as Pat Robertson..well, I can chalk his evolving insanity up to his old age..he appears a bit senile at times... but a Christian man.. he really is irrelevant in the National spotlight.

Equally outrageous is that the conservative publication, The National Review (the same one that had it's employee's cheering at the failed Olympic bid for Chicago) could seriously defend any of Rush Limbaugh's remarks. What would have been a moment of supreme integrity for this organization would have been it's captains taking center stage and renouncing and admonishing the vile and sickening sludge coming from Rush. This should have been the last straw for fellow conservatives. Hasn't he demonstrated over and over, time and again his true lack of character? Spewing hate and intolerance in the name of? What? Conservatism? Values? Ratings? More millions for his lavish lifestyle? How can the religious right and conservatives "tolerate" this? I mean he has 2 million listeners or so... It really stumps me. Because there is so much else they don't tolerate. Gay marriage.... choice....lack of moral values in media culture...the government...liberals, socialists... isn't hatred and unloving, unkindness and uncompassionate behavior equally as "sinful" and unacceptable? The Bible says so.
Since when did it become okay to be mean spirited to the point of despicable?

The contempt and covert racism that people like Rush and some of his cronies over at Fox espouse certainly for this President is apparently greater than humanity itself. And... speaking of Fox, the fact that their three top rated programs, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Beck spent a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage devoted to the Haitian earthquake..instead choosing to air Glenn Beck's interview of Sarah Palin (OMG- Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum..but that's for another blog....) and O'Reilly discussing the perils of The Daily Show..astounds the mind!'s such a sorry state of affairs for our country.

Which brings me to this point. I've had lots of friends on the right and socially conservative acquaintances respond to my rantings about the right wing media and talking heads, etc. Their point to me is that during the Bush years the "liberal" factions in this country were just as bad, just as mean... they constantly harp on the fact the press ripped George Bush apart on a regular basis. Calling him fascist, stupid and an idiot.

Lets see... the name calling wielded at Obama...Terrorist, Socialist, Communist, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Anti- Christ, mockingly a Messiah, Racist, non- citizen, baby and grandma killer all this even before his first 100 days in office.

Yes, it's true George Bush was the brunt of late night comedy shows. And it's also true he was and still is the target of left wing loathing primarily for an unjust war his administration waged, along with implementing policies that undermined our Constitution, the stripping of habeas corpus, breaking the Rule of Law, lending his unwavering support to Corporate America and basically causing the country to lapse into a economic crisis not seen since the likes of the Great Depression. And yes, he was mocked for the way he walked and talked.
Well, all of these things did happen under his watch and certainly justifies rational criticism...the last two, okay- entirely unfair.

So... while it's true ole 43rd took a beating, nothing compares to the vitriol and nastiness coming out out of the right conservative outlets currently. Sadly most of this is coming directly from the Republican Party itself and it's political wing- FOX news. Their target Operation Obama. No other candidate in modern political history had to endure what this man has..and he's the first Black Pres. Interesting.

This thought that somehow the left wing is saying things just as nasty and the notion they are equally culpable- there is no equivalency. I just don't see it. The left isn't out there shooting up museums, churches, crisis pregnancy clinics, conservative gatherings, or cops.

You have to go all the way back to the 60's or 70's to find anything like that kind of covert political violence coming from the left. Remember Bill Ayers? But beginning in the 80's..the good ole Reagen years.. we've had waves of it coming out of the right- now including nine violent right-wing attacks on innocent Americans since Obama was inaugurated! Militia groups are up 50% and the threats on our Presidents life are up 400% since taking office. It's the right, at present, that has reared it's ugly head. And it just isn't "fringe" any longer. It's unleashed on conservative radio and FOX to millions of listeners each night.

Okay, so the commenters are not goody two shoes on liberal sites either, but the problem has nothing to do with the has everything to do with the Opinion leaders who are driving the conversation. It's actually shockingly difficult to name a single major voice on the right who hasn't called for the outright silencing, or harassing- even joking about the elimination of liberals . Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck. Sean Hannity. Bernie Goldberg. Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham,, Michelle Mailkin, Michael Savage. Dick Morris (remember his foot fetish prostitute scandal?) Fox is like the Safe House for those who commit indiscretions or worse.... crimes. Pretty soon, Ted Haggard will be seen with his own line up ....

When Sean Hannity runs a poll on his website asking whether his viewers prefer a military coup, secession, or armed rebellion to overthrow the Government..and armed rebellion wins. This is cause for some concern. Right wingers have built their careers on demonizing the left and liberals. But when they flirt with specific steps that should be taken to deal with them-that is something not to be ignored. Tea Parties and Tea Baggers (do they not still know what that term means?) A conservative Revolution? Taking back the country? Armed rebellion?

Smells a lot like Bill Ayers and his revolutionist actions back in the 60's. Bill Ayers and his ilk also felt to the core they needed to fight an evil corrupt government they couldn't trust. Radical? Yes! Thankfully Bill Ayers didn't have a his own talk show back in the 60's that reached millions of people like Sean does. History could have been very different.

What's so hard for my mind to grasp is that conservatives, and certainly Christians, hold themselves up to a much higher standard. These right wing media pundits don't hide the fact they elevate themselves way above the evil "liberal" media. The thing is they have lowered their standards so low in fact, that they become the very thing they claim to not be... hateful, anti American, bigoted, intolerant, uninformed and I'm throwing this one in- not loving.

The regular diet of venomous anger and hate, floating conspiracies, name calling, dripping sarcasm, and disseminating outright lies and slander make them completely abhorrent. This model should make them completely irrelevant as well. Equally baffling is that conservatives, who boast about their loftier standards, seemingly look the other way at this truly bad behavior. Why?

It really stumps me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Michael Moore's Letter to the Pres

Michael Moore writes an open letter to President Obama reminding him Americans do not want a new war president!

Man, I love Michael Moore.

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new “war president”? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn’t so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That’s the way General Washington insisted it must be. That’s what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. “You’re fired!,” said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in’ hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea — “Let’s invade Afghanistan!” Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the “Garden State” (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the “Graveyard of Empires.” If you don’t believe it, give the British a call. I’d have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev’s number though. It’s + 41 22 789 1662. I’m sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you’re about to commit.

With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the “war president.” Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line — and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.

Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn’t have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush’s Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you’re doing it so you can “end the war”) will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you’ve said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone — and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout “tea bag!”

Choose carefully, Mr. President. Your corporate backers are going to abandon you as soon as it is clear you are a one-term president and that the nation will be safely back in the hands of the usual idiots who do their bidding. That could be Wednesday morning.

We the people still love you. We the people still have a sliver of hope. But we the people can’t take it anymore. We can’t take your caving in, over and over, when we elected you by a big, wide margin of millions to get in there and get the job done. What part of “landslide victory” don’t you understand?

Don’t be deceived into thinking that sending a few more troops into Afghanistan will make a difference, or earn you the respect of the haters. They will not stop until this country is torn asunder and every last dollar is extracted from the poor and soon-to-be poor. You could send a million troops over there and the crazy Right still wouldn’t be happy. You would still be the victim of their incessant venom on hate radio and television because no matter what you do, you can’t change the one thing about yourself that sends them over the edge.

The haters were not the ones who elected you, and they can’t be won over by abandoning the rest of us.

President Obama, it’s time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, “No, we don’t need health care, we don’t need jobs, we don’t need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, ’cause we don’t need them, either.”

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would your grandmother do? Not send more poor people to kill other poor people who pose no threat to them, that’s what they’d do. Not spend billions and trillions to wage war while American children are sleeping on the streets and standing in bread lines.

All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam “might” be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish — the full terror of which we scarcely know.

When we elected you we didn’t expect miracles. We didn’t even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn’t even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God’s sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DON’T have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother’s son.

We’re counting on you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I used to think Dennis Kucinich (D) Rep from Ohio was so radical.. I know now he's so sane.


Here’s the text of a letter he just sent out to his supporters in support of REAL health care reform:

Why We Desperately Need Health Care for All – Now

Dear Friends,

More about why we desperately need health care for all:

This past weekend, I visited a festival at a church in a working class area of my district. These events are opportunities for people from the community to gather, to eat ethnic foods, listen to music and enjoy each other’s company; before the brisk, brooding Cleveland winter begins to set in. When I walked through the doors, I felt as though I had stepped back in time, to when I was a child growing up in the inner city of Cleveland where I witnessed people struggling every day to make ends meet. From this early experience I have learned to recognize poverty, the clothes it wears and the physical appearance it presents.

What I saw in the church were humble people whose shoes were well worn and whose clothes were in need of repair. I also saw people struggling with various stages of ill health, with obvious physical difficulties. I know what poverty feels like and I felt it here and I was surprised. What made this visit memorable was that it occurred in a suburban community which had formerly been known for its solid middle class housing.

Meanwhile about 400 miles away, in Washington, DC, the insurance companies have wielded enormous influence to knock a public option out of the Senate Finance Committee health care bill and we still struggle to keep the public option alive in the House. A decision is due soon from the full Senate. Will they actually pass a bill which requires that Americans buy private insurance? The House continues to try to determine the shape and content of our legislation.

The political system is failing the American people. Money for Wall Street, not for Main Street. Money for War, not for Peace. Money to move jobs out of America, not to create new jobs here. Money for insurance companies, but what about the people?

While 47 million uninsured wait for an answer, and another 50 million underinsured stand by, Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care and their retirement security. How long can people wait for help?

I am asking you to continue to join me in the push to have a state single payer amendment in the health care bill. Whatever passes the Congress will be insufficient to meet the broad based health care needs of the American people, which is why it is important to give the states the option to move toward single payer. Call your representative now and demand that the Kucinich state single payer amendment remain in the bill.

In my community, and many others across our nation, the level of human suffering from an economy “gone bad” is rising to shocking levels. A recent US Census report states that in this decade the number of northeastern Ohioans who live fractionally above the poverty line has risen 10% – to a quarter of a million people.

But I do not see cold statistics. I see real people. I see the poverty lining their faces. I see their eyes asking: Why?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where's the Outrage?

I read a bumper sticker today that said, “If you’re not outraged then you’re not paying attention”. How fitting for the times, huh?

It made me think about the last few years, what occurred under the last Administration -and Dick Cheney in particular. You know, the first VP who became President the day after 9/11. Oh, I thought of George Bush too but it appears now that after almost 9 years what we have learned about the former Vice President is that he was the central power source for sacrificing so much of our nations ideals, values -and Constitution. How could so much happen in such a short period of time- right under our noses? I started wondering why is it that Americans don’t seem to get outraged any more.

And I’m not talking about rage as seen all over the cable networks… There is a clear distinction. I’m talking about good old - fashioned outrage at injustice, wrongdoing and the abuse of power and principles by our elected officials.

Dick Cheney. Here’s a guy who it appears actually committed crimes from the Office of the Vice President-and was just recently out in full force making the lecture and talk show circuits fiercely defending his disastrous policies and bellowing ominous warnings of the current administrations foreign policy. So unclassy.

It’s obvious the former VP has no intention of slipping quietly into a nice post “serving my country at its highest level” retirement but instead over the last 10 months, has chosen to keep his mug in the news. Just today there was a quick sound bite on the mainstream media- news about another misdeed he engaged in whilst reigning over America. Something about newly revealed torture photos at Guantanamo… sigh.

He is a constant reminder of how things went very, very badly for our country and I for one hope he sticks around.

Disturbingly, he has groomed and unleashed his daughter Liz, an adorable chip off Papa’s block, out on to the national stage to further his defense and policies. The word on the street is she was seen meeting with a Political Consulting Firm last weekend and –this week she and fellow war hawk and editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol unveiled a new non-profit, “Keep America Safe.” A front organization with a snazzy patriotic sounding name for the failed Neo Con, pro-war, pro-torture policies of her father-and what a handy public launching of her political career too.

Dick Cheney’s been called all sorts of unflattering names... and I'm much too polite to mention most of them here. But the most popular nickname by far that seems to have adhered amongst his un supporters in the vast blogoshere and print media is that of the Dark Lord of the Sith, “Darth Vader”. Cheney himself even joked affectionately about his new surname and said, “It’s one of the nicer names I’ve been called.” Can’t argue with that Dick…but it’s been way overused.

Maybe it’s because I was never much of a Star Wars fan but I don't agree that this is the best characterization for the former Veep. I get the evil dark hooded analogy and all… but he reminds me more of the loathsome and classic villain, Henry F. Potter in Frank Capra's, It's a Wonderful Life.

I know. I’m drawing on movies again but one cannot help notice the remarkable similarities between Cheney and Potter.

I’m not the only person to see the striking physical resemblance either. The web is full of photos comparing Cheney at Obama's Inauguration (remember when an disabled Cheney was wheeled out in a wheelchair, cane in one hand and wearing a Fedora) and old Potter in his wheelchair in the end of the film. He truly resembles Lionel Barrymore who portrayed Potter (beak like nose, liver spots and menacing scowl) and you have to admit each is indeed heartless, cold, apathetic and downright EVIL. The clincher though -like the ruthless banker of Bedford Falls who steals money and shatters George Bailey's life, Dick Cheney also never receives justice for his crimes.

Frank Capra Jr. and his wife lived here in Santa Barbara years ago. His daughter was a friend of my twin girls and they had many play dates in grade school. Apparently, Frank Capra Jr.’s father was besieged with complaints after the release of his film about the fact that Potter never got his comeuppance. I agree. Though the movie was wonderfully heartwarming, what is true redemption in the "movie world" if justice isn't served to the villain?

So, fast forward from Capra’s Bedford Falls to the post 9/11 world. Admittedly, Cheney's crimes are certainly darker and indeed more dangerous in nature as compared to those of the fictional character Potter. And perhaps the movie villain Potter may be more likable than Cheney. But I can’t help wonder why Americans aren’t outraged and don't seem to want to see justice served to the man who became President the day after 9/11.

I suppose a small thing like leading our country dishonestly to war in Iraq wasn't enough to spark outrage from the masses. And for the first time in our modern history, “we really did it”, the US went to war preemptively.

Let us not forget this important factoid about our government- under the Constitution, Congress, and only Congress has the authority to declare war. I imagine since the Founders who were smart fellows must have thought it was a pretty good idea to have a collective consensus as opposed to giving just one guy all that power.

According to Webster’s, the definition of preemptive: designed or having to deter or prevent an anticipated situation or occurrence, or done to prevent something from happening. Wow.
It’s understandable how “preemptive” might be a shrewd strategy in business or dare I say, relationships but …war? Yes, it is indeed a big bad world we live in and the anticipation of anything (bad) happening is just around the corner. Preventing something …from happening? Something? Perhaps like making “something” up –as in the existence of “weapons of mass destruction”.

The horrific events of 9/11 changed the American Psych forever it is true. But the Neo Con philosophy embraced by a few powerful men, including Cheney led them to make decisions that were unprecedented in our nations history. The critical shift in foreign policy, one of consensus, multilateralism and a forged nato after the Cold War for over four decades to what we have presently with the Bush Doctrine- giving the President of the Unites States not only the authorization to declare war, but to do so unilaterally, without consensus and- preemptively based on a “perceived” threat- is shaky at best.

Wouldn’t it follow that if the US held this policy of “preventing an anticipated situation or occurrence” that other nations would adopt the same? The world may not like us but they could always count on the fact that we would never launch a preemptive strike. Now- not so much.

I guess the Russians decided to take a cue from Cheney's foreign policy because just yesterday Presidential Security Council Chief, Nikolai Patrushev, announced that Moscow now reserves the right to conduct preemptive nuclear strikes to safeguard the country against aggression. He went on to single out the US and NATO and stated that the Cold War foes still pose a potential threat. Nuclear? Gee, I feel much safer don’t you? Thank you Dick and your administration for helping to make the world a better, more- trusting place.

It’s not like the US hasn’t flirted with the option of a preemptive war before. Kennedy was but a sliver away from launching a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. He didn’t. And the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba. Some say Kennedy lost his life due to this decision. But that’s for another blog….

Dick Cheney was spawned from a previous era of corruption and deception- The Nixon years, and this fact should not escape attention. He learned from the best as a young protégé way back when as an aide in the Nixon White House…but the list of egregious things he did in office make Nixon look like a pussycat.

Among his achievements that will define President Cheney’s legacy: sold an unjust and unwarranted war to the American Public and Congress, pioneered and authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" known to anyone humane as "torture", directed the CIA to hide anti terror programs from Congress, seemed to believe the office of the VP was exempt from any or all culpability because he officially presided over the Senate, participated in the Executive Branch of government manipulating the Justice Dept as if that branch answered to the Executive. Which included influencing the laws written by the Legal Dept to legitimize the holding of non -citizen “enemy combatants” for an indefinite period of time, and wire-tapping of Americans without a court order. Facilitating (and the cover up of) the leak of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame because he didn't like the criticism (or truth) he was receiving from that operative's husband, Joe Wilson. I won’t bore you with the finer points of how he and Bush systematically attempted to dismantle the Constitution and suspend Americans' writ of Habeas Corpus, um… you know, that important legal instrument we inherited from the Magna Carta and the Brits for the safeguarding of individual freedom from arbitrary “state” action”.

These things happened. And now they are recorded in the annals of history.

Outrage anyone?

I recently read that after the Kent State tragedy in 1970 1.5 million anti-Vietnam War student protesters basically shut down over 1200 college campuses across the nation. A fifth of the country’s colleges and universities! It was the most massive protest in US history. Ever.
Geesh, Nixon was quaking in his boots, and was whisked off to Camp David for safety, fearing the long -haired “bums” would start a revolution and overthrow the government. His paranoia even led him to order special White House Council to oversee Political Dissent in the US. Interesting… what is it with Republicans keeping tabs on Americans?

Nixon's infamous line says it all doesn’t it? "When the president does it, it's not illegal." Tricky Dick Cheney took a page straight from Tricky Dick Nixon’s playbook.
Cheney’s motto, which he recently expressed to Chris Wallace of Fox News: No one is above the Law except the people above the Law who shouldn’t be questioned because it is obvious that they are serving a greater good.

So where are the 1.5 million students who are now full-fledged boomers who managed to scare the pants off of Nixon? Nixon at least had to resign from office because of the Watergate Scandal. Humiliation is a powerful punishment. Cheney, whose unjust war cost 85,000 Iraqi lives and over 4000 American soldiers lives- nothing.

Yes, there were many Americans who protested the Iraq war, and there were many who saw through the deception and in the case of Cheney, the lies and knew in their gut it was wrong. Wrong in policy and wrong morally.

So, why were there not millions and millions shouting from the mountaintops about the injustice of this particular war and the actions of this particular administration? Shouldn’t Bush and Cheney have been quaking in their boots?????
And more importantly, where are they now? Demanding this administration investigate the crimes and misdeeds over the last 8 years. Weren’t their actions far more deplorable than Nixon’s?

And the final slap in the complacent face of America? Liz Cheney, a younger, feminine but no less calculating version of Pops presently keeping those same atrocious policies of alive and well. Chilling.

We know everything changed the day after 9/11 when Dick Cheney became President: policies of preemptive war, mandatory regime change, approval of torture from the top, The Patriot Act and its host of violations of the Constitution, flouting the Geneva Conventions and the Rule of Law.

Cheney and his Neo Con cronies, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfawitz and Richard Perle (both policy makers over at the Defense Dept at the time) along with David Frum exerted the greatest influence over our President at the time. A creepy Neo Conservative, pro war and pro oil, philosophy rooted in Jewish -Christian Zionism and American Exceptionalism, (translated) World Dominance now had the opportunity to be tested thanks to the events of 9/11.

I read Richard Perle’s book, An End to Evil, how to Win the War on Terror, back when the Iraq war broke out. Pearle’s book laid out the case rather convincingly just how the US should conduct a war on terror and the actions that were justifiable in doing so. This premise that the United States not only had the right but the obligation to engage in preemptive strikes and topple evil regimes in defending our country was now a necessity. Also vital to our freedom was the notion that the US had a duty to spread Democracy throughout the world with the use of our military. This was especially imperative in the Middle East.

Yes, we have a new President, elegant, smart and articulate. One who has promised change and gives us hope. But we are seeing how campaigning and governance are two very distinct operations.

Without the outrage on the part of the American people to stand up for what is right change will never happen. Without the masses making sure it does.
And when those who are elected to high office, violate our principles, commit crimes or engage in wrongdoing and they don’t receive their comeuppance, it doesn’t serve America well.

Recently I caught an old ABC interview of Cheney. He was overseas in the Middle East.
In the interview he’s hunched forward, classic Potter/Cheney, smirking and talking out the side of his mouth. When reminded by the interviewer that 2/3 of Americans were opposed to the Iraq War. Real life villain Cheney answers diabolically, “So?”

It reminded me of the vile Henry Potter in one of the last scenes of the movie, mocking George Bailey in his moment of darkness and anguish "Why George, you're worth more dead than alive.

Like that bumper sticker that so clearly reminds us… we must not be paying attention. We should start.