Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Curbing Presidential Warmongers

Two Democratic presidential candidates failed an important test today. They were both asked: If you become president, would you be in favor of Congress limiting your war powers.

Hillary Clinton replied “I never would have waged a pre-emptive war in Iraq. And I would hope I never would have waged such a war anywhere in the world so incompetently.” Senator Chris Dodd answered “If I were commander in chief, we’d be getting our troops out of Iraq. I don’t think I’d have the problem of worrying about whether or not there’d be caps on them.”

Helllooo!!! Answer the question, Numbnuts! Sorry, F minus. You can drop out now. Next.

Neither of these useless wastes of space even heard the question, let alone answered it. Talk about un-fuckin’-clear on the concept! The problem with Bush’s presidency isn’t that he's a delusional megalomaniac who thinks we’re playing Risk and he's having a tantrum because he can't conquer Iraq. (That’s just part of it.)

The problem is that one person — GW Bush in this case — is allowed to hijack our entire government while Congress, the courts and dozens of federal agencies just sit there with their thumbs massaging their favorite orifice. The question asked of Dodd and Clinton has an obvious answer, and these two hacks missed it.

The solution to a rightwing douchebag who thinks he's the King of Kings is NOT to elect a leftwing douchebag who think he/she is the Divine Ruler.

OK, Remedial Civics 101: The reason George W. Bush’s harem (formerly known as Congress) got defeated last November has nothing to do with Left, Right, Libertarian, Green, Peace & Freedom, Nazi or any other political viewpoint. Millions of voters — of every political stripe — were alarmed by a Fuhrer wannabe (his actual job title is “President” but he never figured that out) who governed by Swiftboating and conjuring up "signing statements." We The People told him we've had enough. This is America. Out Damned Spot!

To any presidential candidate of any party: If you didn’t pick up that simple important lesson last November, please quit now and save yourself the future embarrassment.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More Trouble From South Dakota

Quick, call an exterminator. The South Dakota legislature has a major infestation of rightwingnuts. These malicious pests are doing what they do best: trying to make an end run around the will of the voters.

As you probably remember, last year the South Dakota legislature passed a law banning all abortions except when the mother’s life was in danger. By trying to turn the clock back to the Spanish Inquisition, the legislature begat this website. But the state’s voters redeemed themselves by signing a petition to have the anti-abortion law placed on the ballot. And the law was trounced by the voters last November.

And now the South Dakota legislature is back for another try. These Taliban wannabes are devoted followers of the Neurotic Creed: When you try something and it doesn’t work, keep trying the same thing over and over and over, and eventually you'll get the result you want.

The State Director of Planned Parenthood said “The people of this state told the government that they shouldn’t be involved in these intensely personal and very difficult private family issues.” She also pointed out that abortions would be reduced if these same lawmakers would support programs to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Democrats Starting to Win the PR War (Finally!)

When you're dealing with Right and Wrong — or even Sleazy vs. Sleazier — it shouldn’t matter who comes up with better one-liners. But unfortunately, in a country saturated with slogans and bumper-stickers, it comes down a battle of slick PR and catchy phrases.

From the Vietnam war right up through Iraqmire, armchair warriors have claimed that criticizing the war equals “aiding and abetting the enemy.” Any critics of American foreign policy are tarnished with “Hating America” and “Blame America First.” Unquestioning devotion to George W. Bush translates into “Support Our Troops.” Etc.

But lately some Democrats have actually scored some rhetorical points. Senator Joseph Biden said “It’s not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy. It’s the failed policy of this president — going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely.” Yeah!!! Bam! Pow! Take that, chickenhawks!

And John Conyers told a crowd of anti-war demonstrators: “George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing. He can’t fire you.”

And as you’ve probably heard (God it’s fun to kick an asshole when he's down), Bush’s poll ratings actually went down right after his State of the Union speech last week.

Again, slogans and rhetoric shouldn’t matter. Style shouldn’t triumph over substance. Unfortunately…

But now, after several decades of Republican PR victories, the tide seems to be turning. Instead of answering Republican soundbites with incoherent sputtering — or trying to be Republican Lite — Democrats are actually firing off some good soundbites of their own. It’s a necessary evil.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Afghanistan, Opium and the War on Drugs

Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries. On top of that, they’ve been in a perpetual state of war since 1979 when they were invaded by the Soviet Union. War with the Soviets; civil war; being enslaved by the Taliban; and now civil war again as the Taliban threatens to take over again. And about the only lucrative industry in that whole country is growing opium poppies.

But wait! You peasants can't grow opium. You stop that right now! Don’t you realize? Millions of incredibly wealthy people (compared to you) ten thousand miles away are getting themselves addicted to an opium byproduct. Sorry, all you dirt-poor farmers. Sure you'd like to eat and put a roof over your head. Tough shit!

You understand, of course. Americans are choosing to get themselves hooked on the heroin which is derived from your opium poppies. This in turn gives another excuse for our moralists and Biblehumpers (America’s equivalent to your Taliban) to go on the warpath and start spewing fire and brimstone. Their predecessors used to round up thousands of heretics (infidels to you) and do unspeakable things to them. They had tortures that your Taliban haven’t even dreamed of.

Nowadays, thanks to our secular democratic form of government, our Taliban/ Biblehumpers are pretty much reduced to just going on TV and making douchebags out of themselves.

But, our government spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year, just to create laws against drug use and other victimless “crimes.” Then we spend hundreds of billions more dollars to lock up millions of people who violate these laws.

And as you dirt-poor Third World peasants know all too well, the world revolves around what the American government wants. What it wants, it gets. (Just ask Salvador Allende.) And it wants YOU to stay poor and miserable, so that the American Taliban can stay smug and happy.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase — NOT!

Remember that phrase “begging the question” from your old Critical Thinking classes? Here is a textbook example.

The rightwing argument (without a shred of evidence) against raising the minimum wage has always been “jobs will be eliminated. You'll only be hurting the people you're trying to help.” And now that the minimum wage is just about to be raised for the first time in ten years, the wingnuts are trying to block it by using their tired disproven argument.

Senate Reactionaries are blocking the minimum wage increase until it is accompanied by massive tax breaks for employers who will be affected by the increased minimum wage. And of course this reinforces their underlying unproven belief that an increased minimum wage will create too much hardship for employers, who will in turn lay off their workers. And the circle goes round and round…

The minimum wage increase isn’t dead yet, but it'll be on hold for awhile. Ted Kennedy said “Why can’t we do just one thing for minimum wage workers, no strings attached, no giveaways for the powerful?”

Marie Antoinette is alive and well in the United States Senate.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bush: More Dangerous and Unpredictable Than Ever

The Republicans lost the election last November. Bush’s “Surge” plan has been ridiculed and condemned by practically everybody. The Bush Administration will be investigated mercilessly by the new Democratic Congress. And yet Bush is more headstrong and more belligerent than ever. Not to mention that he’s stark raving mad.

Like they say, an animal that’s been wounded and cornered is more dangerous than ever.

The neocons are still lusting for world dominion, and George W. Bush is running the most secretive presidency in our history. This combination makes the rumor mill go crazy. Are we about to invade Iran? A former Middle East analyst for the State Department said “I’ve seen some of the planning ... You’re not talking about a surgical strike. You’re talking about a war against Iran that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years.”

Or maybe we’ll invade Syria. North Korea maybe? Venezuela?

And Bush’s solution to Iraqmire is to send more troops?!?!? That’s right, when you find yourself in a hole, keep on digging. Dig deeper! Faster! Two months ago the Iraqi prime minister asked Bush to withdraw American troops in Baghdad to the outskirts of the city. He told Bush Iraqi troops were ready to handle the security of central Baghdad.

Against the advice of the Iraqi prime minister, the Iraq Study Group and his own generals, Bush wants to send in MORE American troops.

So Iraqmire keeps getting more hopeless, and we have the constant tension and fear that any day now we’ll be invading Iran or Syria or God-Knows-Where. And on top of that, Bush’s invasion of America is getting scarier all the time.

Let’s see, what’s his latest assault on American values? Oh great, new rules allowing detainees to be convicted — even executed — based on hearsay testimony and coerced statements. Not in my America.

To make matters worse, Bush only hires people who share his contempt for civil liberties and the democratic process. The one prerequisite for joining the Bush Administration: you have to keep telling him that he’s the president and he can do anything he wants.

Attorney General Electrodes “Alberto” Gonzales is the worst thing that ever happened to the Justice Department (and we thought John Ashcroft was bad). Our top law enforcement officer thinks the Geneva Convention is quaint and outdated, and that federal judges are unqualified to make rulings that affect national security.

And Dick Cheney never met a domestic spying program he didn’t love.

The voters, Congress, the courts and even the Religious Right are moving further away from that stench in the White House. What’s our deranged “leader” gonna do next? Hell hath no fury like a spoiled pampered trustfund baby scorned. Watch your back.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Torquemada Has To Go

Along with Bush and Cheney, another impeachment needs to happen. Electrodes “Alberto” Gonzales is the worst thing that ever happened to the Justice Department. He needs to be impeached.

There are plenty of police states around the world where this modern-day Torquemada would fit right in. The United States of America isn’t one of them. This is the same shitstain who described the Geneva Convention as “quaint and obsolete.” He also tried to re-define torture so that any type of interrogation that doesn’t end in death or organ failure doesn’t qualify as torture.

Military tribunals, massive domestic surveillance, the loss of Habeus Corpus — Gonzales gets credit for all of these treasonous attacks on America.

Please click here to sign an online petition for Gonzales’ impeachment (and for a brief summary of his crimes).

Friday, January 19, 2007

CEOs Gone Wild

If you’ve been following the news in the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen the name Bob Nardelli. He’s become the Kenneth Lay of late ‘06/early ’07.

He’s the disgraced former CEO of Home Depot. Under his reign, Home Depot stock went down 6 percent in 6 years. For his pisspoor performance, Nardelli was “punished” with a $210 million golden parachute. This was in addition to his annual compensation of $38.1 million.

We’ve all heard these statistics before, but they need repeating: In 1965, the average CEO made 24 times the pay of the average worker. In 2005, the average CEO “earned” 262 times the pay of the average worker. If this isn’t obscene enough for you, there’s plenty more.

What ever happened to that old-fashioned concept of risk? A Yale political scientist says, “At one time, when corporate titans went down they went down hard. Who could be more insulated from risk than today’s CEO? There’s never been a group of people richer or more protected from the vagaries of the economy.”

He also says “one of the hallmarks of today’s economy is that risks once widely shared by government and employers have shifted onto the American family.” Twenty-five years ago 83% of large and medium-size employers offered guaranteed lifetime pensions. Today that percentage is less than a third.

Bob Nardelli got a guaranteed $4.5 million pension for leaving Home Depot. Home Depot employees are offered a 401(k) with no guarantees.

And before you start bleating about “socialism” or “class warfare” — most of the outrage is coming from shareholders; not from politicians or laid-off employees.

As Ellen Goodman says, “In America, workers aren’t being rewarded for productivity and CEOs aren’t being punished for poor performance. What’s wrong with this picture? At some point, the shame of bankruptcy, job loss, illness — hallmarks of the risky society — is trumped by the shame of picking up a pink slip worth $210 million.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tell Senator Reid to Grow A Pair

Senator Kennedy has introduced a bill that will require congressional approval before Bush can escalate the war in Iraq. Giving Congress the sole authority to declare war — what a concept.

But instead of putting this bill to a vote, Harry Reid wants to hold a vote on a meaningless resolution opposing more troops in Iraq. OOOOOHHHHH — a resolution! That’ll get the warmongers quaking in their boots.

It’s time for our lawmakers to come out from behind their slogans and platitudes and take a stand. They need to stick their necks out and say Yes or No to that crazed Genghis Khan wannabe in the White House.

Please Click Here to urge Senator Harry Reid to hold a vote on the bill requiring congressional approval for any more troops in Iraq.

Enough is enough.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bush Really IS a Uniter

Everyone laughed at Boy George in 2000 when he claimed he was “a uniter not a divider.” But seven years later, he’s making good on his promise.

A lot of Republicans and Independents, and most Democrats, are united against President Lyndon Johnson George W. Bush’s escalation of the War in Vietnam Iraq. (There really are some eerie parallels between a Lyndon Johnson speech 40 years ago and Bush’s “surge” speech from last week.)

Ted Kennedy got a standing ovation recently when he said “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam! Echoes of that disaster are all around us today!” One crucial difference is that Vietnam ended up uniting Republicans against those “Soft on Communism” Democrats who “lost” Vietnam. Democrats have spent the last few decades trying to fight off the label of “Soft On _________” (Communism, crime, drugs, terrorism, you name it).

But now the Democrats aren’t intimidated any more by those meaningless slogans. It’s gotten to the point where mainstream Democrats aren’t even afraid to be seen with leftwing groups like Move On and Win Without War. A former Democratic chairman said “We don’t want to come off looking like wimps,” but “we’re jumping all over ourselves now to see who can be the toughest on Bush and the war.”

It’s about time.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was 39 years old when he was assassinated. And his assassination was 39 years ago as of this April 4th.

America still has a lot of deep-seated racial problems. Prejudice and bigotry are still ingrained in our society. But we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve come a long way from the 1940s, when “any white could strike or beat a Negro, steal or destroy his property, cheat him in a transaction and even take his life without much fear of legal reprisal.”

And this wasn’t just in the South. Jack Johnson — a Black heavyweight boxing champ during the early 1900s — generated hatred and fury everywhere he went. Whites (egged on by the press) staged deadly riots all across the country when Johnson won the heavyweight championship.

So we’ve made progress. And a lot of this progress was made possible by Martin Luther King Jr. In 1955 he led the bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white man. The boycott lasted over a year. During this time, King’s house was bombed and he was arrested. But ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation on all public transit.

He was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. This was the group that combined the organizing power of Black churches with non-violent protests. Their civil rights protests ultimately led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

And now most cities have at least one major street named after Martin Luther King, Jr. How many streets are named Sheriff Bull Connor Boulevard?

Dr. King was against the Vietnam war. He insisted that the US was in Vietnam “to occupy it as an American colony.” He called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He also said “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom,” and “One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society... shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.”

What would he say about our current quagmire in the Middle East? We sure haven’t made much progress in that department.

Like millions of Americans today, Dr. King was spied on by the U.S. government. The main ringleaders of this spying were J. Edgar “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat” Hoover and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. King was aware of the overlapping importance of civil rights and civil liberties. Some of his quotes include: “A right delayed is a right denied,” and “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

Back in Dr. King’s lifetime, global corporations didn’t have anywhere near the stranglehold over American society that they do now. More and more employers today are controlled by corporate headquarters thousands of miles away. These industry leaders have no personal stake in any community; and the people who do have a stake are less and less in control. What would Dr. King say about this? “There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

Along with the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attacks, Dr. King’s assassination is ripe for conspiracy theories. The red flags include:

The assassin, James Earl Ray, was a small time burglar who had no prior convictions involving violence or guns. He claimed he hadn’t even fired a gun since his discharge from the military 20 years earlier. Ray’s fellow prison inmates said they’d never heard him talk about race or politics. The rooming house where the shots were supposedly fired from didn’t have any of Ray’s fingerprints anywhere. And according to some witnesses, the shots came from a different direction, not from the rooming house.

We’ll probably never know…

Quotations from Martin Luther King, Jr. can be found here, here and here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

An Inconvenient Movie

Even a liberal state like Washington has its share of mouthbreathing snakehandlers. In a Seattle suburb, the school district has stopped showing “An Inconvenient Truth” because one parent complained.

Funny how one person can have so much impact. Millions of people speak out against the madness in Iraq, with no response. One person complains about a scientific movie because it doesn’t mention Adam and Eve, and Poof — it’s gone.

Frosty and Gayla Hardison complained about “An Inconvenient Truth” to the local school board. The school board has now placed a moratorium on showing the film. The Hardisons have seven children, don’t believe in sex education (they obviously never had any themselves) and they want Creationism to be taught in public schools.

Frosty Hardison said “Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher. The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is.... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

Hardison also says he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old.

Gayla Hardison said “From what I've seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of ‘bad America, bad America,’ I don’t think it should be shown at all. If you’re going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don’t think the video should be shown.”

If any teachers in this district want to show “An Inconvenient Truth,” they will need the approval of the principal and the superintendent, and they will have to give equal time to Creationism and Adam and Eve.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

George W. Bush is Right! Let’s Go Get ‘Em!

Shock and Awe! Bring ‘Em On! Yeah!! We’ve been doing the right thing; we just haven’t been doing enough of it. More troops. More sacrifices. More billions drained from our treasury. We’ll show ‘em.

Think of Humpty Dumpty. More horses, more men, and we got Humpty back together again.

This is what psychiatrists keep telling their patients. If you’re doing something that’s not working, keep doing the same thing over and over and over again. Eventually your prayers will be answered.

It’s just like Vietnam. In the early 1960s we sent a group of “advisors” to help the South Vietnamese government. When our advisors started getting attacked by North Vietnamese guerrillas, we sent a few troops over there to protect them. And then a few more troops, and some more, and then a lot more, and then a whole lot more…

And it worked! Thirteen years later we were outta there!

Hopefully, God willing, by the year 2016, if all goes according to plan…

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hawaii: Waikiki/Honolulu

Just got back from a week in Hawaii (Waikiki). It was raining about half the time we were there, so I spent several days checking out Honolulu instead of trying to swim or sunbathe. It isn’t the most exciting city in the world, but it’s different from any other city I’ve ever seen. It works fine as a Plan B if you go to Waikiki and it’s raining.

I don’t think Honolulu gets many tourists, so you’re seeing the city as it really is and not just a theme park that was set up for tourists. Most tourists just stay in Waikiki or go to other parts of Oahu or to the other islands. Most of Honolulu’s population is Japanese. (For that matter, Waikiki must be about 90% Japanese. This wasn’t true four years ago when we were last there.)

So you have an ultra-modern tropical city, pan-Asian, pan-Pacific. Japanese are the largest ethnic group by far, but there are lots of Chinese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Filipinos, Hawaiians and other Polynesians. But the city didn’t remind me at all of Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Samoa (places I went in the Navy a long time ago).

The usual fast food franchises are everywhere, but outside of them most of the restaurants are Japanese/Korean/Chinese/Vietnamese.

With so many different ethnic groups, English seems to be everybody’s second language. I couldn’t believe how many conversations I heard in broken English, with everyone speaking their own version of Pidgin English.

So if you go to Waikiki and get rained out, don’t just sit and fume in your hotel room, or hang around the bars in Waikiki guzzling $10 Mai Tais. Take a half hour bus ride to downtown Honolulu. It’s different.