Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Marcy Winograd



I hate phones.

I hate selling.

I hate phone solicitation the most.

So what was I doing last night in a law office with a headset on, calling strangers till I got a migraine?

Volunteering for Marcy Winograd.

Marcy is challenging Rep. Jane Harman for California's 36th Congressional District seat in next weeks primary. Jane Harman is essentially a "Bush Democrat", voted for the war in Iraq, voted for the Patriot Act 3 times. Marcy Winograd is a true progressive Democrat, from the 'Democratic wing of the Democratic Party'. I'm glad to have a local candidate that I feel good about volunteering for. Here's what Marcy's about:
Domestic Policy Position Summary:

Winograd supports universal single-payer health care; substantial corporate incentives for alternative energy development (New Apollo Energy Act); media reform that favors local autonomy over corporate consolidation; a national voter-verified paper trail with standardized ballot audit protocols; and campaign finance reform such as the CA Clean Money campaign; as well as a new education initiative focused on bolstering early childhood education to close the achievement gap, improving teacher training and on-going professional development, and recreating schools as cross-community hubs rather than isolated silos.

Winograd also supports a woman's right to choose; legalization of gay marriage; workers' right to organize (bipartisan Employee Free Choice Act ); decriminalization of immigration; abolishment of the death penalty and censure and impeachment of Bush and Cheney for high crimes relating to the war in Iraq and for attacks on civil liberties, including illegal wiretapping (see http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/reasons.)

Foreign Policy Position Summary:

Marcy supports immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, cessation of air strikes over Iraq, an end to no-bid reconstruction contracts for war profiteers,no permanent US military bases in Iraq, war reparations so that Iraqis can reconstruct their own country, and diplomatic efforts to involve regional Arab stakeholders in fostering peace and unity in Iraq. Marcy calls for an end to Bush's first-strike pre-emptive nuclear war policy, secret detentions, suspension of due process and torture, and illegal wiretaps of Americans.

Winograd vigorously supports renewed Israeli/Arab peace talks aimed at establishing a Geneva Accord two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. In the face of the Bush administration's pre-emptive war policy, Winograd stresses the importance of opposing a military attack on Iran. For more on Iran, read: A Nuclear Iran Would Be Bad - A Forcibly Defanged Iran Would Be Worse.

Winograd believes the United States should join the International Criminal Court to underscore the importance of the rule of law to prosecute international terrorists before a world community -- and believes Congress should, as Congressman John Conyers suggests, pass a unified security budget that integrates and balances the importance of preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons with beefing up homeland security (ports, other transportation centers) and creating international goodwill through a renewed commitment to fight poverty, AIDS, and illiteracy both at home and abroad. Winograd also supports efforts by Congressman Dennis Kucinich to establish a Department of Peace. (See www.dopcampaign.org.)
As much as I hate phone solicitation, last night I spoke to one woman who had never heard of Marcy. After we talked, and I told her about Marcy's positions, she said, "I'm so glad you called! If I hadn't talked to you, I would have just voted for Jane Harman."

That one woman made the migraine worthwhile.

Here's Marcy's website.

And thanks to DivaJood for bringing her to my attention!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Hooterville Hellcats: Mission Accomplished!

The Hooterville Hellcats launched an assault upon Sherman Oaks today. Unfortunately, due to the danger and secrecy of their mission, and the fact that I can't find my digital camera, they could only be seen by camera-phone.

First, they secured their communications base.



Then, they captured the enemy's fueling station.



The Hooterville Hellcats proceeded to deploy all across Sherman Oaks, capturing bus stops, coffee shops, and even into the belly of the beast - the Galleria!

Major combat operations in Sherman Oaks have ended, but the War Against War continues for as long as necessary - six days, six weeks - I doubt six months...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monkey Business

from Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions", published in 1973:

"[Kilgore Trout, the science fiction writer] wrote a story one time about an optimistic chimpanzee who became President of the United States. He called it 'Hail to the Chief.'

The chimpanzee wore a little blue blazer with brass buttons, and with the seal of the President of the United States sewed to the breast pocket....Everywhere he went, bands would play 'Hail to the Chief.' The chimpanzee loved it. He would bounce up and down."


Another golden nugget from The Smirking Chimp

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Kommandos Project


Kvatch over at Blognonymous has started a new blog to promote a protest that I just love. It's called the Kommandos Project. Target date is May 26th and 27th - Memorial Day weekend. As Kvatch says, "The notion is to place little green army men--you know the ones that you played with as a kid--with banners protesting the war anywhere...everywhere we can think of."

I think it's a fabulous idea - non-confrontive, thought-provoking, fun. Also, deadly serious. Wouldn't it be great to see these little guys popping up everywhere?

I'm going to e-mail my non-blogging friends, blogwhore where I can. I'm going to buy my supplies tomorrow - army guys are available at the 99¢ store or any toy store.

Check out the Kommandos Project - everyone is welcome to participate! Let's remember and respect our fallen soldiers by helping to bring some back home alive.

Fast-Track Flyboy: Kommander Kodpiece, the Kowboy Koward of Krawford

I found this nugget at The Smirking Chimp - one of my go-to-daily sites.
Editor's note: This is an e-mail message Michael Graham sent two days ago to a highly reputed investigative "blog" run by a progressive think tank. Mr. Graham was responding to blog entries concerning Bush's overuse of the National Guard.
Dear troublemakers,

I used to be a prize-winning reporter, so hear me out. Before that, I served in the real Air Force, as a commissioned officer in counterintelligence, at the same time George W. Bush was hiding out in the Texas Guard. At that time, the Guard did relatively little unless there was a hurricane or something. They certainly didn't have to worry about combat.

My theory is that Commander Codpiece -- insanely addicted to power -- is so hung up on the fact that he was a coward back then that he is compensating for it now by forcing today's Guard to be heroes. That way he can be one retroactively -- heroism by association. That may sound nutty, but the man is batshit nuts. And it is just a theory.

But here is something that is provable. No one in journalism has picked up one aspect of Bush's past: He never was properly trained to be a second lieutenant in the first place! I'm talking about before flight school, entrance to which requires an officer's commission.Those of us in the real Air Force got commissioned in one of three ways: The Air Force Academy, ROTC, or -- if already college graduates -- the Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. If you saw the film An Officer and a Gentleman, depicting the Navy's version, you have a rough idea of what that training was like. It was goddamned hard. But young Georgie didn't have to go through it. If you examine his records, you will find that he was given a direct commission as a second lieutenant after completing enlisted basic training and nothing more! Bang: He went directly from Airman Third Class, which is the rank of someone just out of basic, to a second lieutenant with a few typewriter keystrokes. Then he went to flight school. Read more…

Pride

I came home last night from a gig in Long Beach, where I played at a gay bar. This week is Pride Week in Long Beach. I've played many, many Pride festivals, and when I see so many wonderful people and beautiful families deprived of their basic civil rights by someone else's arbitrary 'religious' beliefs, I am always just outraged. I use 'religious' in quotes because this is not about religion at all, but the product of fear and prejudice. And straight people need to stand up and support their gay brothers and sisters. So many of the people I love in my life are gay, and to not stand with them seems a betrayal to me. It takes all of us to change the system. The courage and determination that my gay friends have in just living their lives openly is an inspiration to me.

Sexual orientation is not about sex - plenty of people can 'swing either way', but about love. Who you fall in love with. Who you want to spend your life with. Who you want to build a family with. And that's what 'family values' means to me. Imagine the twisted thinking that believes a child is better off shuttled through the nightmare that is foster care than given a permanent, loving home with a gay couple hungry for a child to share their love and build a family with. Children brought up loved are loving. That is what society needs more than anything else.

Gay pride, at the end of the day, is not so much about being proud of one's sexual orientation - after all, it's just how one was born - but about pride in being yourself; a pride that we as straight people take for granted. This most basic pride in oneself, the core, the cornerstone of your personality, is denied to 10% of God's children, for no other reason than someone else's fears and insecurities.

The 'Defense' Rests

I received my first marriage proposal at the age of eighteen. My fiancé, a year older than I, was a real catch. A Tom Hanks look-alike, he was tall and lanky, with curly brown hair and a sweet, slightly loopy smile. Kenny was smart, funny, athletic, a gifted actor and a talented saxophone player who helped me get a full-tuition music scholarship at the community college he attended a year ahead of me. His mom had been my first piano teacher, and we had been friends ever since I was in the eighth grade. We bonded in high school, both of us being theater geeks, band nerds - not terribly popular but cool with being 'on the fringe'. Music and drama helped us both to find our own place in the spinning vortex that is high school.

Kenny was a college sophomore and I was a freshman when he proposed. We were both music majors, and both had jobs as well - I was playing keyboards in local bands at night, and he was the night manager of a convenience store. Unlike most of my other male friends, Kenny was already planning for a home and family. Hard-working and thrifty, he was putting away money for a down payment on a house. I adored him. We had so much in common - including the fact that we both liked guys.

Yep, Kenny was gay. It was not a 'lifestyle choice'; it was not a 'sexual preference', like 'preferring' tea to coffee. Believe me, Kenny did not just wake up one fine morning and say, "I think I'll alienate my family, exclude myself from the social mainstream, jeopardize my ability to choose where I live and what I do, and lay myself open to rejection, discrimination, violence, hate, and fear." Folks, I'm afraid he was born that way. Take it from someone who grew up with him.

As close as we were in high school, we never talked about it. He had a 'girlfriend', a sax player at another high school, and we both pretended that he was in love with her long enough for him to have a prom date. It wasn't until after I graduated in the late '70s and disco was king that Kenny opened up to me about being gay. He introduced me to the gay subculture in our town, and I went with him to the gay bars and the all-night discos. He would have crushes on guy after guy, always so sure that this one was 'the one', but somehow it never seemed to work out. Although finally free to 'be himself' with other people who felt the way he did, the long-term relationship and stability that he wanted so much was at odds with the hedonistic excesses of the era, and there was no social framework in place to support him.

This was where I came in. As we saw it, our getting married could solve a lot of difficulties (Your Honor, I plead the ignorance of eighteen). Kenny's mom knew me and liked me; she would be happy that I would give Kenny social validity; Kenny could have the home and family he wanted - well, at least the home and the appearance of a family. I could have my cake and eat it, too - a partner who would be there for me financially and emotionally without asking for sexual fidelity, who would give me a home and not care what time I came back to it!

Well, as it turned out, we didn't get married after all; there was that pesky detail of 'being in love' that we knew, as young and nutty as we were, was the real reason for getting married. As much as we loved each other as friends, there would never be a marriage in our hearts. We went our separate ways; I went on the road and he stayed in our home town, still working, still saving, still waiting and hoping for the dream to come true. We still kept in touch, and when I came home to visit my family, we'd get together and catch up on each others' lives. Kenny eventually got the home, but the life partner to share it with never came along.

After a few years, I moved to California and my visits were spaced farther and farther apart. Sometimes I saw him, sometimes I didn't, but there was always 'next time'. I got married (for real) and after the birth of my first child, I flew back home with my husband and new son, eager to introduce them to my family and friends. I couldn't catch up with Kenny; I left messages on his machine, but in the whirlwind of activity surrounding the new baby, I put Kenny on my 'next time' list.

Two weeks after I went back to California, my sister called me to tell me that Kenny had died of AIDS.

When I hear people talking about the "Defense of Marriage", it just makes me want to spit. I believe that if Kenny had been allowed to marry, if there had been a social structure in place at that time that encouraged and rewarded commitment in gay people as well as straight, that Kenny would most likely be alive today.

Just who are they 'defending' marriage from? Is there some straight woman that won't be able to find a mate because the gay boys 'got' all the men? The arguments that the staunch 'Knights of Matrimony' throw out don't hold water to me.

Jan LaRue, a member of the Concerned Women of America ('concerned' with getting all up in other peoples' private lives!) - a lawyer, for gosh sakes - talks about why gay marriage is so very wrong...
Granting a marriage license to homosexuals because they engage in sex is as illogical as granting a medical license to a barber because he wears a white coat or a law license to a salesman because he carries a briefcase. Real doctors, lawyers and the public would suffer as a result of licensing the unqualified and granting them rights, benefits and responsibilities as if they were qualified.

Qualified? Qualified?!?

Yes, I guess the lovely and talented Lyle Menendez is 'qualified' to get married. No doubt the devilishly handsome Scott Peterson, with his boyish charm, will be married before you know it, taking his pick of jailhouse proposals from the coterie of killer-hags that are inundating him with marriage offers. After all, he is single!

point: A child should have a mother and a father.

counterpoint: First off, I think it pretty much goes without saying that in today's society, reproduction is not the only reason to be married. I don't remember the 'Fertility Test' when my husband and I were applying for our marriage license. There are straight couples who (gasp!) choose not to have children! And how about the couples who just can't and decide to live with it? Should their licenses be revoked? What about parents who have lost a partner to divorce or death? Should their children be taken away from them?

Then, of course, what about the straight couples who have absolutely no business having children, and have them any old way? Abusive parents, neglectful parents, parents who, in their heart of hearts, don't want children but have them because of outside pressure? Am I to believe that a loving, committed gay couple would be worse for the emotional health of a kid than parents like these? Apparently so. That's right along with the "Murphy Brown" school of condemnation - those awful, selfish women who want a child so badly that they choose to have one without being married. Selfish? Most single (by choice or not) moms (and dads) I know have very little 'self' at all - they're too busy trying to raise their kids right in a two-income society. They're always at the bottom of the list. But I digress. Maybe we could force them to marry a gay man or woman. One of the opposite gender, naturally. Serve them all right.

No doubt about it, mothers and fathers are great. I am not suggesting that the mom-and-pop deal is just another family model choice. It's not. It is the dominant one, but just as no one in their right mind today would force a woman to stay with an abusive man 'for the sake of the children', the idea that any two heterosexuals (no matter how sick and dysfunctional) are better parent material than any two homosexuals (no matter how emotionally healthy and loving) is not an idea that I am prepared to accept. I am sure that there are bad gay parents out there. But I know there are bad straight parents, lots and lots of them, and no one is suggesting we abolish marriage for straight people because of that. I might even posit that, as a group, gay parents might have a higher percentage of good parenting because they often have to go to extraordinary lengths to have children, and in the face of strong opposition. It doesn't just 'happen', and I suspect the process would tend to weed out the less-motivated.

Gender role modeling? Maybe. But the overwhelming majority of gay people have (drum roll, please)… straight parents! What happened there with the 'gender modeling'? Good parents of any kind make sure their kids have positive models around them.

And then there's always the trump card - IMMORALITY! Who sez? God sez! Whose God? My God! Oh, my God. I'm not even going to bother to discuss the Bible quotes in Leviticus that are trotted out on a regular basis - smarter people than I have refuted the 'cherry-picking' of Levitical laws employed by those who feel that God Hates Fags. To these people, I say, "Fine. You're absolutely right. No one should force you to marry a gay person." Like any self-respecting queer would want to. Our country was founded by people who left their homeland and traveled thousands and thousands of miles to be free to worship as they pleased. And, yes, they were Christians. But the whole idea (and a radical one it was) was to build a country where everyone was free to worship as they pleased - not just Christian Puritans. Freedom of religion. Freedom NOT to worship if so inclined. Again, I'll leave the debating of the Constitution to my betters, but unless I'm way off the mark here, the United States of America is not a theocracy*. Isn't that exactly what we're trying to avoid setting up in that other place…what's it called again?…oh, yes - Iraq!

Well, folks, I'd better get out while the getting's good - I can see I'm heading into deep water here. But I'm still not convinced that there is any sort of justice in the fact that a mass murderer can marry and have children, if he or she chooses a partner of the opposite sex, but a law-abiding, upstanding member of society - if gay - cannot. To my mind, Your Honor, the 'Defense' doesn't have a leg to stand on.

(*note - I wrote this in 2004 - obviously that was a naïve and foolish statement.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hey, Senate Judiciary Committee…

Your personal belief system is not enough authority to deny someone else their civil rights under our Constitution.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Al-Icia or...Al-Qaeda?

President Bush, you got me fair and square.

For a long time, I had you all fooled.

I was sure I could get away with it. After all, who would suspect me, a middle-aged mother of 4 of Irish-English descent, of being part of a terrorist network? It was brilliant in its simplicity (or was it simple in its brilliancy?) I could call all my Al-Qaeda controllers from the comfort of my home phone, and no one would be the wiser! The airport surveillance, the border security - it meant nothing to me. While I may have appeared to be calling my friends and family, having phone sex, or ordering attractive, yet moderately-priced jewelry on QVC - I was really conversing with my fellow America-Hating Traitors! Plotting the overthrow of our American way of life, sabotaging Christianity, concocting secret plans to destroy all that is good and righteous. I was so close!

And I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling President!

But that wily, foresighted President saw right through it. I had the gullible, lily-livered liberals completely snowed, but not The Decider! Nossir! That bold, brave man knew all along what I was up to. While the namby-pamby, gutless moonbats wrung their dainty hands and whimpered about 'civil liberties', the Fourth Amendment, and so on, the President crisply decided to 'cut the Gordian knot', so to speak, and, brushing away pesky laws and inconvenient restraints like so many cobwebs, delivered a crushing blow to me and my 199,999,999 co-conspirators. The "United States of Allah"? Not on his watch!

Fortunately, Halliburton is busily constructing 'detention centers' to hold us all!

Those guys think of everything.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We're Paying To Be Spied Upon!

One thing that I don't hear talked about a lot is the fact that the telcos did not give our records to the government; they sold them to the government. Note that the companies were not required to turn over the records to the NSA. If they had been required to cooperate by law, then Qwest would not have had the option not to cooperate.

The companies that did cooperate - AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon - are reported to be operating 'under contract' with the NSA. 'Under contract' means for a consideration. So, it is not unreasonable to infer that there is not a sufficient legal basis to require the phone records to be turned over to the NSA.

And, since the NSA, a government agency, has bought our records, whose money do you think they used to purchase these records? That's right, Einstein. Yours and mine.

Our tax dollars at work.

That should make us all sleep a little better, shouldn't it?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Democrats - Keep Silent?

I've been hearing a lot of noise lately about how the Democrats should not even whisper 'impeachment' or even 'investigation' if they want to get the House back in November.

This sounds like something that the Republicans cooked up.

Hmmm.

WTF?

Nancy Pelosi, promising she would not seek to impeach?

Democrats have to stand up. Are we really supposed to believe that the only chance we have of getting a seat at the table is if we promise to be silent? I'm sure the Republicans would like us to believe that.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"War On Terror"™? Shut Up, Already!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There Is No Such Thing As The "War On Terror"™!

Yet, every time I have the misfortune to accidentally overhear some foul, shrill right-wing blowhard, they're shrieking about the "War On Terror"™ as if it actually existed! As if 'terror' were something that could be bombed or blown up into submission and surrender. As if it had some leader that could be captured and paraded before the public. As if it's something that we can stop if we kill enough people and take over enough countries.

I'm not saying there's no such thing as terrorism. Obviously, there is. And, obviously, it is a problem. Not the only problem, or the biggest problem that Americans face, but you'd never know that by the doom-cryers and fear-mongers. However, there is a difference between a problem and a war. War has a very specific meaning. In legal terms, it refers to "conflicts arising between the armed forces of two or more nations and the methods employed to guard and protect such nations, under the authority of their respective governments." In fact, what was popularly known as the Korean War was deliberately called a 'police action' because it didn't meet the legal standard for war.

Now, does 'terror' belong to a specific country or countries? No. Does 'terror' have a government? No. Does 'terror' have a leader who can speak for it? No. There is no legal qualification for war whatsoever, yet our civil liberties are being incinerated and the Constitution and Bill of Rights are being annihilated, and the bogus "War On Terror" is used as an excuse every time.

And the best thing about a nonexistent war? There is no end! You can use it forever! The amorphous 'enemies' are everywhere, and everyone! After all, 200 million Americans are probably terrorist accomplices,if not actual terrorists themselves, because the Fourth Amenment says (emphasis mine):
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.
So, obviously, there must be probable cause for 200 million Americans to have their phone records sold to the NSA without their knowledge or consent, or our law-abiding government would not be doing it, right? Although no actual Al-Qaeda has been brought to justice, except for some hapless, pathetic patsies, and they don't seem to be able to find Osama Bin Laden with all the awesome resources that they've usurped, surely the rest of us 200 million Americans must be on the horn to these guys all the time - "Hey, Khalid, if you're stopping by the house tonight to plan some terrorist attacks, could you pick up a six-pack on your way? Thanks, buddy!"

What do you think - some guy is going to come out waving a white flag and say, "I'm the King of All Terrorists, and on behalf of all the terrorists in the world, I surrender to you, President Bush! Please don't unleash any more American might upon us! We are helpless against your superior strength and moral righteousness. You've beaten us fair and square, President Bush, and I promise you, no terrorist will ever interfere with your oil interests again, O mighty Caliph of Carnage! We bow to your awesome American power!"

All you hear, every time they take something from us, is "We're at war!"

Using that as an excuse to break every law on the books, and rape the public.

The only war around here is the war on Americans, perpetrated by the criminals occupying the White House.

I say it's time to fight back.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hey kissfan - I was close!

Bush approval drops to 29% , according to that hotbed of liberal journalism, Wall Street Journal Online! Kissfan thought it wouldn't be till the end of May. I predicted May 15. But Bush beat both of us!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A List of Info Blogs I Like

My good friend Ed asked about My Left Wing, which I hurriedly abbreviated as MLW. So I thought I'd make up a list of the liberal news and info blogs I check daily:
Daily Kos
The Smirking Chimp
Media Matters
Raw Story
BuzzFlash
Democrats.com
Think Progress
The Huffington Post
Firedoglake
Crooks and Liars

This is by no means all the good daily info blogs, and I'm sure there are a ton I didn't mention, but this is what I start with in the morning.

My R.S. Pic


I was looking particularly hag-a-licious that day. I don't usually get dolled up for a session, and I had no idea what kind of session it was before I got there. I certainly was not expecting to be photographed. It just goes to show, I suppose.

Ahhhh...Back Online!

It's a little embarrassing how discombobulated and cut-off I feel when my internets are down. Dragging my laptop into $tarbuck$ just to get online is really, really sad. But it's also a sign of how little real information I can get anywhere else. The newspaper will tell me nothing that will enlighten me. The TV will tell me nothing I believe. And I miss my blog friends and my go-to information sites - Raw Story, Buzzflash, HuffPo, MLW, Kos, etc., and my streaming Air America.

And my e-mail, of course...

Much better now.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My (Tiny) Pic in Rolling Stone!

Rolling Stone put out its 1000th issue last Friday, and my little bitty picture is in it! On the Rock n Roll page (I think it's 41 but I'm not sure) there is a picture of Neil Young with the choir. You can see me over Neil's left shoulder - about the 2nd person to the right (right looking at the picture, left of Neil).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Internets Down Again (waah)

Yesterday I went to a lovely birthday party for Maryscott O'Connor. proprieter-in-chief of the most excellent My Left Wing. I must say it was a pleasure to hang out with smart, informed, thoughtful people who you don't need to censor your conversation around! It's the first time I've been to a party full of strangers where I immediately felt comfortable and at home. I had to laugh, because in addition to the regular party fare - burgers, drinks, snacks - there were also several laptops in attendance! Only at a blogger's party...

Anyhow, I am distressed to report that, once again, my internets are down. I think there's a broken wire on my line outside, and I have to wait till Wednesday for a repair person to come out. The guy on the phone was from No. California and said they can get someone out the same day, but SoCal - not so much. So I am making my daily excursion to the $tarbucks to get a little overpriced WiFi.

Oh well...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rock'n'Roll Comic from Joel Orff


Wow! You know you've had your fifteen minutes when...someone you don't know makes up a comic with you in it! Joel Orff is a cartoonist whose work appears in a free alternative weekly in Minneapolis called Pulse of the Twin Cities. He wrote me yesterday to send me this really cool comic. He also has a website with an archive of his strip Great Moments in Rock 'n' Roll. I checked out his archives and they are very cool. This is a great read for any rock aficionados.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Corruption

There's been a lot of talk lately about corruption, as in the "Culture of Corruption". Right now, it's mostly Republicans referred to, and that, of course, is because Republicans occupy virtually all the seats of power. As Lord Acton famously observed, 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. The corruption we see is a natural consequence of the appalling lack of checks and balances in our government. One of the platforms of the 'Republican Revolution' in 1994, led by Newt Gingrich, was to get rid of the corruption of the Democrats, who were in power at the time. What is happening now, though, simply boggles the mind. Since all the power is concentrated, not just in one party, but in collusion with the business interests that own said party, that not since the bad old days of Tammany Hall have we seen such naked greed, outright thievery and shameless venality. The reason you're not seeing Democrats involved in this is that Democrats have nothing to sell. No access, no influence. The K Street Project® is a perfect example - Tom DeLay and company required the lobbyists with whom the House did business to be Republican. Democrats couldn't get into the circles of corruption if they tried. Who wants to bribe someone who can't do anything for you?

But another use of the word 'corruption' is the decay and stink of something dead and rotten. This also applies here. What we are witnessing is the decomposition of our constitution, our freedom, our integrity and good name as a nation, the values we used to take for granted - all dead and stinking. And the Bush Crime Family is gorging itself on the putrid flesh.

The stench makes me want to throw up.

We have to get new blood, new life, into our political system, and we have to do it now, unless we want to live inside the gangrenous filth of a country that has had the life and health sucked out of it by those jackals who have torn it to bits in their feeding frenzy. Our system is poisoned and dying from the head down. If the corruption is to be stopped, we must amputate.

Religious? Right?

I Can Do Whatever I Want - I'm the Unitary Executive!




Paul Craig Roberts has written another excellent article:
The Bush administration has done more damage to Americans and more harm to America's reputation than any other administration in history. Yet, a majority of Republicans still support Bush. This tells much about blind party loyalty.By encouraging the move offshore of American jobs and manufacturing, Bush has run up tremendous trade deficits that have undermined the world's confidence in the dollar as the reserve currency. Recently, both Chinese and Russian government officials warned of the dollar's shaky status. The fall in confidence in the dollar is evidenced by the sharp run-up in the price of gold. In January 2001 the price of gold was about $240 per ounce. Today the price is $660 per ounce.The price of gasoline has risen from around $1.30 per gallon to over $3.00 per gallon. Obviously, Bush's war in the Middle East did not ensure the oil supply.

Read the whole article here:

"Runaway Bride"? How about "Runaway President"? Running away with our privacy, our safety, our money, our liberty. This "Unitary Executive" stuff - he's dead serious about it. The Boston Globe reports that
"Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has issued signing statements on more than 750 new laws, declaring that he has the power to set aside the laws when they conflict with his legal interpretation of the Constitution."
Scot Lehigh, a Globe columnist, says in another article:

"Bush's position reduces to this: The president needn't execute the laws as they are written and passed, but rather, has the right to implement -- or ignore -- them as he sees fit. (Were it not for our pesky written Constitution, perhaps George II could take his cue from Charles I, dismiss Congress, and rule -- ah, govern -- without any legislative interference whatsoever.)

Even members of the president's own party have balked at that claim."

John Dean and Jennifer Van Bergen also have some interesting things to say about signing statements and the concept of the "Unitary Executive".

Says Dean:
Bush has quietly been using these statements to bolster presidential powers. It is a calculated, systematic scheme that has gone largely unnoticed (even though these statements are published in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents) until recently, when President Bush's used a signing statement to attempt to nullify the recent, controversial McCain amendment regarding torture, which drew some media attention.

Pumping Up the Bush Presidency With Signing Statements

Generally, Bush's signing statements tend to be brief and very broad, and they seldom cite the authority on which the president is relying for his reading of the law. None has yet been tested in court. But they do appear to be bulking up the powers of the presidency. Here are a few examples:

Suppose a new law requires the President to act in a certain manner - for instance, to report to Congress on how he is dealing with terrorism. Bush's signing statement will flat out reject the law, and state that he will construe the law "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."

The upshot? It is as if no law had been passed on the matter at all.

Or suppose a new law suggests even the slightest intrusion into the President's undefined "prerogative powers" under Article II of the Constitution, relating to national security, intelligence gathering, or law enforcement. Bush's signing statement will claim that notwithstanding the clear intent of Congress, which has used mandatory language, the provision will be considered as "advisory."

The upshot? It is as if Congress had acted as a mere advisor, with no more formal power than, say, Karl Rove - not as a coordinate and coequal branch of government, which in fact it is.
Says Van Bergen:
When President Bush signed the new law, sponsored by Senator McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander-in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.

This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.

And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants.

All these declarations echo the refrain Bush has been asserting from the outset of his presidency. That refrain is simple: Presidential power must be unilateral, and unchecked.

But the most recent and blatant presidential intrusions on the law and Constitution supply the verse to that refrain. They not only claim unilateral executive power, but also supply the train of the President's thinking, the texture of his motivations, and the root of his intentions.

They make clear, for instance, that the phrase "unitary executive" is a code word for a doctrine that favors nearly unlimited executive power. Bush has used the doctrine in his signing statements to quietly expand presidential authority.
So, folks - it's time to pay attention to this. Understand - he has yet to use a veto. But at the same time, he's using the signing statement as a line-item veto (which current legal understanding calls unconstitutional) He considers Congress just a pesky bunch of busybodies and spoilsports, and he's using whatever means he can find to ignore and nullify it. This is what he's doing while he's got everyone het up about immigration and gas prices.

(Of course, how would these people promoting this nonsense feel about giving away all that power if Hillary Clinton were President?)

Rising To The Bait

I don't know about you, but I have a feeling we're being led down the primrose path with this 'illegal immigration' hooey. Not that it's not an issue, but it's an issue that has remained pretty much the same for a long time. Why the sudden furor? Why, right this minute, is it being whipped up into a foamy, froth-flecked frenzy?

Could it be that we are being distracted by the shiny mirrored ball so we won't notice we're being two-stepped right smack into another war? With the stunning success of the Iraq invasion, why not? We're on a roll here. And, like the obedient consumers of info-tainment that we are, we're righteously arguing one side or the other, getting all emotional and worked up while the real serious problem - the only real serious problem worth getting your panties into a twist about - is another pre-emptive, illegal, immoral, expensive and ultimately unwinnable 'war'. Good God - we can't afford the one we've got now! And to take it to Iran will just seal our doom and unite the Muslim world against us (like they are so loving us now!). World War III will shortly follow. Notice the similarities between the run-up to Iraq and this. Pretending to use 'diplomacy' while in reality rebuffing the efforts made to communicate and negotiate, while in reality already deciding upon war.

This has to be stopped now. Forget about the phony demagogue hot-button issues that the government wants you to get concerned about. Don't "Watch the Birdie". Don't buy the sleazy sleight-of-hand ("Nothin' up my sleeve!"). Don't let them take us to nuclear war. Nothing else matters.

Nothing else matters.

Nothing else matters.