July 19, 2007
Recently I listened to a speech by one of my favorite Senators, Byron Dorgan
D-ND. He was angry at
what he described as the incompetence of the current administration. It made
me angry, too - at Senator Dorgan. The truth is that this
administration, since its ordination by the Supreme Court, has not made a single
mistake. Not one!
When each and every decision promotes the intended goal, none can be called
mistakes. In the case of this administration every decision has furthered one of
the following objectives.
1. Divide the populace on issues having extreme emotional impact, thereby
ensuring their full attention on those issues.
2. Destroy the people’s confidence in the federal government. Make them
believe that the government can not or will not do anything to help those in
3. Elevate the strength of corporations and pure capitalists, those who truly
own the corporations, at the expense of all wage earners.
4. Eliminate the provisions in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which
allow the people to protect themselves from government abuses.
5. Elevate the president’s role as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to
that of the Commander in Chief of Everything by neutering the Legislative Branch
of government and subverting the Supreme Court.
Why do these things? The only rational conclusion is that it is an attempt to
neuter the worlds first and strongest government “of the people.”
Our representative government, our system of laws, is the greatest obstacle to
the power and growth of multinational corporations and, in essence, the creation
by those corporations of a world wide indentured working class. In
fact, it may be the only obstacle.
Consider the enactment of “free trade” agreements – which transfer power to
corporations, blur national borders and move jobs to countries with cheap labor.
Consider the actions which have drained the national treasury:
an unnecessary tax rebate,
an unnecessary war,
unnecessary tax relief for high profit industries,
unnecessary tax reductions for the super rich, and
the movement of as many government jobs as possible to the private sector.
Come on America, wake up!
First the corporations took over the news media most watched by those who
labor with their hands. Now the most respected news outlet for those who labor
with their minds is being purchased by the same people. Some might
flippantly ask “so what?” Those who ask that question are willing
participants in their own destruction.
President Bush says thinking is hard work. On that point he’s
right. Thinking is so hard, in fact, that far too many folks would
rather do anything than sit down and ask themselves “Why do I believe this?”
As a result, they are likely to follow any leader with a sound byte slogan
that’s easy to feel in their gut rather than to engage their minds to try to
understand the full and far reaching impact of their momentary gratifications.
Now I think you know why I’m angry at Senator Dorgan. I’m angry
at him for the same reason I’m angry at other people I respect, such as Paul
Krugman, Keith Olbermann, Bill Moyers, and every other pundit who dwells on the
emotional issue of the moment and fails to link them all in a way that the
people of this country can understand. Which Senators, pundits,
journalists, or others with a large audience will begin to open the eyes of the
people to the collapse of our nation of laws? It will certainly take
more than a few of them.
Think about it. There are three editorials in the New York Times
this morning: Vetoing Children’s Health, Power Without Limits and
FEMA Runs for Cover. As presented these are three unrelated
issues. They are not unrelated, but which media outlet will say it?
Probably none. The administration’s machine is ready to unleash
caustic ridicule the instant the case is made. The feigned laughter
over some “grand conspiracy” is the weapon aimed at anyone who would make the
point. Before an article hit the streets the entire right wing media
– main stream press, radical web sites, right wing talk radio and every
republican pundit – would attack with the same phrase. Probably
something like “Grand conspiracy? Get the rubber room ready”, or “Grand
conspiracy? What did that idiot have for breakfast?” You get the
Today we are still a nation “of the people”, but not “by the people,” it is
increasingly “by the rich” (a person has to be rich to run for office) and not
“for the people,” it is “for the corporations.” The truth of this is
seen in who has benefited by legislation in the past six years.
It’s long past time for people to wake up and pay attention, but it’s not yet
too late. But, if we don’t, this country will be in the sewer,
people will be dying of sewer gas and the exit will be locked. When
we see something that strikes us as contrary to the constitution we must tell
our legislators, tell the editor of our local paper, tell our friends.
But absolutely let someone know we see it. Disinfecting daylight may
be a worn phrase but it’s still true that hidden agendas wither in the light of
day. We must get over the idea that political parties are sports
teams that require fervent, unthinking support. We must question
what our political leaders are doing. Think about it.
OK, it’s hard work, but think anyway. Exercise is a good thing.
By the way, it isn’t just happening here. No right wing
government wants it’s people to think. While Americans are known for
chatting about the weather, the French are notorious for discussing politics.
Another article in the New York Times this morning is titled, New Leaders
Warn Pensive French of the Drawback of Thinking Too Much. This
is the new French government’s advice to it’s citizens who are pensive about new
tax cuts for the wealthy. A thinking populace is a danger to the
goals of multinational corporations and the super rich in any country with a
Finally, don’t take my word for anything. Just think about it.
March 26, 2007
Eleven Democratic Senators Thumb Their
Noses at the Less Fortunate
While it is true that the Democratic tent is very large and lock step
politics is unlikely at the best of times, there are some issues that,
historically, have enjoyed wide and solid support. Differences of opinion within
the Democratic party on the issues of abortion and the war in Iraq are expected.
However, Democrats standing up for the working class is something which, at
least until now, had been pretty much a given.
During the recent budget debate an amendment drafted by Senator Sanders
(I-VT) would have rescinded the recent tax breaks granted to the top 1 percent
in order to fund several programs to benefit those on the very bottom, and to
help curb the growing shift of federal funding responsibility from federal to
state and local governments. Senator Sanders presentation was fact-filled and
impassioned, comparing the size of the tax cuts for single families with the
cost of programs which would benefit millions of individuals.
When the results of the vote were announced, 47 Republicans had voted no. Two
Independents and 36 Democrats voted yes. Two Democrats and two Republicans
didn’t bother to vote. Then there were the Eleven.
Eleven Democrats voting against the amendment were: Max Baucus (MT), Maria
Cantwell (WA), Thomas Carper (DE), Mary Landrieu (LA), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben
Nelson (NE), Bill Nelson (FL), Kenneth Salazar (CO), Jon Tester (MT), Jim Webb
(VA) and Ron Wyden (OR).
I voted for Jim Webb. I let him know what I thought, and wondered how many
other letters he might receive. But then I saw no mention of this vote either in
mainstream media or news blogs. I wonder how few of the working class folks who
voted for one of these eleven Senators are aware of what happened. How many
would be writing or calling to express their displeasure if they were aware? How
many might think twice before voting for these particular Democratic Senators
We hear with some regularity that the average American isn’t smart enough to
vote properly. I disagree. I think that the problem isn’t lack of intelligence,
the problem is lack of information.
Now I continue to wonder. The information is out there. What will be done
January 19, 2007
With the Supreme Courts upcoming review of the McCain-Feingold campaign
finance reform which tries to keep people who are outside of a candidate’s
campaign out of the electoral process, maybe it’s time to reflect on a different
approach. Let’s face it, there is no law that will ever stop rumors, and
there is no way to stop the press from reporting them. So, like the famous
“swift-boat” ads, and the “caught red handed” ads, and the outrageously racial
ads in Tennessee, stuff is going to happen. The question is, is it libel, and
what do we do when it is.
In a nation that honors free speech, a lie in court will put you in jail. In
a predominantly Christian nation that cites “Thou shall not bear false witness,”
as one of its most precious precepts, slander or libel of a candidate for
elected office should do the same. The problem we have is that the courts take
too long to be of value during a campaign. That condition could be addressed
with a special court to address candidates’ charges of slander or libel against
each other or any third party. In the case of slander and libel of persons
running for elected office, these should be criminal offenses with punishments
equal to the destruction of the electoral process which is done by them. Such a
court would be in session 24-7 in the months before a national election.
When charges are brought, the premise of such a hearing would be simple. The
person or group charged with slander must immediately display the evidence on
which any questionable statements were based, and unequivocal proof that the
information distributed about a candidate was true and in proper context, or go
directly to jail and pay for the distribution of ads in all of the places where
the lie was presented which; 1) admit to the deception and 2) present the truth
as determined by the court. If we value our electoral process, the jail time
won’t be short, and the cost of corrective ads will come directly and only from
the guilty party(ies).
Now to put the shoe on the other foot. The person charging slander or libel
should not be able to do so risk free. That would only fill the court with
frivolous gestures so that an opposing ad could say that so-and-so was charged.
In order to reduce the likelihood of this scenario, if the original material was
found to be not slanderous or libelous, the plaintiff at his or her own personal
expense – not campaign contributions – must immediately distribute equal time
ads in the same markets admitting to the truth of the original.
If such a court was operational, money and time could not protect those who
would corrupt the legislative process with lies and innuendo. It would not stop
everyone, of course. There are always those who believe they can get away with
anything. That’s why the punishment for such a crime should be swift and severe.
The U.S. has many special courts for special circumstances. I suggest that
anyone who says that this can’t be done simply doesn’t want it done. Speaker
Pelosi, Senator Reed and the appropriate House and Senate committees could do
this if they wanted to.
Just maybe . . . . . .
November 11, 2006
There's light on the horizon, it's a new day. I was holding my breath
waiting for Burns and Allen to sign off. They weren't very funny this time
The elections over -- but what does that mean to us?
Yes, the Democratic party is in charge, but coming out of the election it’s a
different party than it was going in. This Democratic victory was in no small
measure due to those who managed to overcome their personal identification with
a political team in order to cast a ballot for “the other guy.” Those folks are
now independents, and it took a lot of frustration and a lot of courage to make
that move. You can be sure that they are going to be watching carefully to see
that they didn’t make a mistake.
Just to set the stage, in the past both parties seemed to huddle in dark
corners to come up with a platform which would entice voters. The object of the
election, from the party’s point of view, was simply to get enough votes to stay
in power. Two things have happened which might indicate the beginning of a new
political culture and an end to that scenario.
First, Howard Dean’s outreach to individuals for contributions has paid off
big time. Until now, both parties have been beholden to the lobbyists and
corporations who have been their major contributors. There can be no doubt in
anyone’s mind that in the past they have legislated accordingly. Along the way
they gained the label, “The best government money can buy,” which was certainly
hard earned and well deserved.
However, Howard Dean’s outreach did more than just attract funding. What
happened is that people dug into treasured savings, gave up nights out and
turned the stuffed furniture upside down to find the money to buy the government
back from special interest groups. We may still have the best government money
can buy, but the number of owners is now too large to allow for narrow
Second, groups such as MoveOn.org, surveyed the membership for consensus on
what needs to be done, and then backed those politicians most likely to work for
those goals - regardless of party. The result is that the Democratic Party must
now be even more responsive to its voting constituency, and the long criticized
“large tent” of the democratic party is even larger today. You can bet that
tomorrow’s news will be full of critics who will still say that there are so
many opinions that nothing will ever get done.
BULL! Finally enough voters have said ENOUGH! Finally enough voters have
decided that “My way or the highway” is the wrong way – that we have to find
some other way. We are seeing the beginning of a move away from divisive
politics. Apparently fed up with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the attack on
civil liberties here at home, and a political strategy intended to inflame
rather than enlighten, enough people are willing to consider compromise on some
issues in order that progress is made on the most important ones.
For example, under the Democratic tent are pro-lifers and pro-choicers. I
believe both the extremes in these camps – those who are adamant about abortion
on demand, and those who demand birth at any cost, will finally be silenced in
an effort to find ground rules acceptable to the majority. It’s about time.
I said many times before that “the future is in our hands” – meaning
literally that the buttons pushed in the voting booth would determine our
It was, we did, celebrate and get over it, the jobs not done.
Today, the future is in our hands in a more figurative sense. Now we have to
pay attention to what our new representatives do with the power they’ve been
given. History has taught some hard lessons. One is that no matter how hard we
try to elect honest and honorable people, some not-so-nice folks slip through.
Another is that even the finest people can sometimes be corrupted.
It has been our history to ignore Congress after the elections and trust that
what we thought would happen would in fact happen. Well, it doesn’t. We still
have a job to do. The job description has changed from selecting candidates to
appraising performance, and we can’t let it go.
Have no doubt – if we don’t pay attention, we will certainly pay penance.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
It seems now that I have no choice but to accept the
fact that I’ve gone mad. It’s the only possible explanation for it. There can be
no other. No matter how hard I try, I can’t arrange the pieces of the puzzle to
look the same as the picture the editors of my local paper come up with.
When I first entered what is now undoubtedly an asylum,
I began to work with the puzzle pieces and put the round pegs in the round holes
and the square pegs in the square holes, and when I finished I would tell myself
I’d done a good job. A lot of my friends agreed that I had done a good job, but
those folks who write the reports always looked at my work, shook their heads
and clucked a lot. Today I understand. The object was never to match the peg
with the hole. The object was to rise above that simple reality. The feat was to
recognize that a tool was needed. A pocket knife. Something to help shape the
blocks and the board into something we imagined they
So, for all these years that I’ve been reading the
paper, searching for separate but related news items and trying to discern what
was real, I’ve been doing it wrong. Now I know that what I was supposed to do
was to decide what reality was before
reading the paper, search for those items which might be useful, trash
anything which might get in the way, and put the results together to make
my picture – the way
I want it. I can’t do that, so by
all comparison with the norms of the editors, I am mad.
Not just mad, I’m
really mad. Even though I understand what I’m supposed to do, I just
can’t. No matter how hard I try I can’t bring myself to change the shape of the
pegs to fit the holes, or to turn the board upside down and hide the holes. I am
obsessed with the idea that square pegs go in square holes and so on. But, the
editors keep trying to teach me better.
Case in point, The Virginian Pilot editorial on October
25 on endorsing a candidate for the House of Representatives. Here are the first
two paragraphs of that editorial.
“Thelma Drake, the U.S. representative from Virginia’s 2nd District, has grown
in her job. She knows what she believes, and knows what she thinks, and
impresses with her articulate, genial manner.
“She knows that the War in Iraq must be won, no matter the cost. She knows that
Virginia’s coast must be opened to drilling by oil and gas companies. She knows
that America needs a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. She knows
that tax cuts to benefit the richest Americans must be extended. She knows these
subjects backward, forward and sideways. And on every one, Rep. Drake is wrong.”
Now, it seems to me (which is why I must be mad) that
given this information, I assume that even a three legged dog that barks with a
lisp is better than someone who will 1) vote to endanger the environment, 2)
amend the constitution to strip part of the population of their rights because
of their choice of life partners, 3) steal from the poor to enhance the bank
accounts of the already rich, and 4) vote to deny the right of habeas corpuses.
(I just had to throw that in, but I’m mad, so just ignore it.)
Just to prove that I’m mad, the editors at the Pilot
followed their first two paragraphs with this:
“Despite that, the first term congresswoman deserves to be returned to Congress
over her opponent, overmatched Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Phil
Kellam, who seems to be running a campaign built on the fact that he’s not her.”
Duh! What did I miss? Isn’t
not being her precisely the idea?
I refused to use my pocket knife again, so the idea
that Phil Kellam isn’t running around telling everyone exactly what he will do
before he gets all the inside information doesn’t bother me. What bothers me are
a lot of little things.
You know, those really trivial, not worthy of much
concern things we would rather not talk about. Like, protecting the environment,
saving jobs, paying as we go instead of mortgaging our children’s future,
remaining a constitutional democracy – with all it’s associated rights,
responsibilities and privileges. Remember those? To be secure in our person and
protected from unreasonable search and seizure. To be able to practice the
religion of our choice, and not be forced to follow the dictates of another. To
be protected from incarceration without recourse to the courts.
But, by the Pilots own admission, the needs of the
community far outweigh the concerns of a nation. (It’s the typical NeoCon
I-Me-Mine extended to a close group of friends.) And, our incumbent has proven
that she can elbow her way up to the trough with the best of them.
But, I’m mad, and I shouldn’t be bothered by those
minor, insignificant things. Or – the guys in the white coats are really inmates
who have taken over the asylum, and I’m the sane one. Who knows? Who cares? The
way things are going I’m not likely to find out anytime soon.
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
So, you think the leaders of
the Administration are short a few high cards do you? Think again. It takes
brilliance to appear totally incompetent while advancing a hidden agenda. This
Administration is incredibly adept at creating situations in which singular,
highly emotional events dominate our thinking, and keep our focus on events in
The nation is divided on
Iraq. “Stay the course” versus “cut and run” are the slogans used to elicit an
emotional response and minimize rational thought. When emotions are set aside,
the question of why this administration would ignore the obvious outcome of
attacking Iraq and refuse to fully staff an occupying military must be asked.
More than enough people with sufficient information to determine that Iraq could
not sustain even a short period without central leadership came forward to
object well before the first bomb was dropped.
Former President Bush made it
clear that the U.S. was unprepared for such an undertaking when he did not oust
Saddam Hussein in 1991. Even as the current administration was planning to
invade Iraq, several high-ranking military leaders were vehement in their pleas
for enough troops to contain the peace. The warnings were ignored and Iraq is
now in a state of anarchy. It must be clear by now to anyone who considers the
question seriously that this was the intended outcome. The question is who has
gained, and who will continue to gain, from the current condition.
The U.S. has entered in to
“Free Trade” agreements with various parts of the world which have resulted in
astronomically high balance of payment deficits and the loss of thousands of
good paying American jobs. Again, the title “Free Trade” elicited an emotional,
rather than rational response, and provided for a discussion not on merit but on
feeling as the agreements were debated in congress. Initially, partner countries
were monitored for compliance to agreements on the status of labor in the
exporting nations, but not anymore. Requirements for fair labor practices have
been ignored and reports of child and slave labor are being talked about on the
floor of the Senate. Talked about, but ignored by the Republican leadership.
American workers cannot compete against this kind of workforce and maintain a
hard won standard of living. Again the question is who has gained, and who will
continue to gain.
In the past five years, new
laws have been passed which erode freedoms and protections guaranteed in the
Bill of Rights. Pharmaceutical manufacturers cannot be sued if hastily
distributed vaccines harm the user. Gun manufactures cannot be sued if their
laxity in controlling weapons in their factories results in the distribution of
firearms to criminals and innocent people are injured or killed. As of last
Thursday, non citizens, even if in the U.S. legally and in possession of a green
card, can be arrested and detained indefinitely without formal charges and
without access to legal recourse. Wiretapping without a warrant seems innocuous
by comparison, but it is an erosion of the rights of Americans none-the-less.
Other new laws simply sock it
to the working class. In the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, the government is
forbidden to negotiate for lower prices. When the same drugs are shipped from
here to Canada and sold at half the price, we are forbidden to buy from Canadian
sources. The administration tells us it’s for our own good because the drugs
haven’t had the benefit of FDA oversight. Who honestly believes that Canada
doesn’t have a similar program just as able to provide oversight? Get real.
While we are at war, taxes
for the richest Americans have been cut dramatically as the debt continues to
rise. It’s ok though, because we won’t have to pay the debt, it is being passed
on to the next several generations. At the same time, pension plans have become
a source of income for corporations in need, while the needs of workers are
being disregarded with disdain by the Congress. Labor can no longer rely on the
National Labor Relations Board for relief from overbearing companies.
Unionization is at its lowest ebb in six decades. The middle class is
Just to be sure that no one
pays too much attention, the Administration and the Congress talk about abortion
and gay rights. They don’t talk about ways to minimize the impact of these
issues, but rather they go out of their way to create major points of argument
between differing segments of society. David Copperfield couldn’t perfect a
Once again the question
remains, who is it that has gained, and who will continue to gain, from the
As I said at the start, when
advancing a hidden agenda, the trick is to get everyone to look at events in
isolation. However, once a person steps back from their own personal agenda and
looks at events in totality, that which was hidden begins to become visible. In
the past I talked about a class war between the worker and a moneyed
aristocracy. True, but incomplete – because it doesn’t clearly identify the
participants. The provoking participants are the nearly invisible, super rich,
super greedy, super miserly, principal owners of multinational corporations.
They alone stand to benefit now and in the future by each and every one of the
The idea of national
sovereignty, even as we argue about the viability of the United Nations, has
been all but totally eroded by multinational corporations. Make no mistake, the
military unrest in the Middle East and political instability in the Americas is
promoted because it makes it easier for corporations rather than governments to
take control of the vast natural resources of the affected regions. It’s not
just a problem for the United States, but it is the Constitution of the United
States with its attendant large, well educated, working middle class which is
the greatest obstacle to corporations in their efforts to exert an even heavier
hand in world governance. Why, because a government of the people, by the
people, and for the people, is simply inconsistent with corporate tyranny.
As a result, it is the
Constitution of the United States which is under attack. In the past five years
every aspect of the constitution has been challenged. From individual rights to
states rights to the balance of power between branches of government and the
separation of church and state, not one area has been unscathed. All of this has
been done with such brilliance that the nation has been complicit in its own
In the past several years we
have been goaded into attacking the constitution with an amendment to define
marriage which would clearly negate contractual rights for some. The attempt to
pass an amendment against flag burning was clearly an effort to negate freedom
of speech for others. Religious arguments over abortion and near-death medical
decisions would clearly trample the rights of other individuals to control their
own bodies. No, these efforts didn’t succeed – this time. But, the process did
provide a momentary diversion for the hapless public.
To top it all off, our right
to elect the individual of our choice for the various positions of power in
government has been severely eroded by electronic voting machines without a
voter verified paper trail. As things stand today no one can be sure that those
in power were ever the peoples’ true choice. Unfortunately, those on the
“winning” side don’t care enough to complain and those who do complain are seen
as poor losers and rebuffed as malcontents. So much for government of the
If the attack on our
Constitution is to be thwarted, and the rebuilding of the great American middle
class is to begin again, we must first fix the election process. Election day
must be a national holiday – everyone must have a chance to vote. No person
directly affected by the outcome of any election must be allowed to participate
in the planning or control of that election.
Every vote must be accurately
tallied and if called into question, all votes must be able to be recounted.
When, and only when this is
done, can we be sure of installing in office representatives of our own
choosing. If we are to survive as a nation we must have Senators,
Congresspersons and a President who will honor, uphold and defend the
Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign, domestic,
religious or corporate.
Our fate is still in our
hands – at least for now, but maybe not for long.
Thursday, September 7, 2006
I’m outside, away from the TV so I won’t be tempted to
get up to see what’s happening in the Senate. The past two days have been so
full of things to write about that it’s impossible to pick just one. In fact,
there was so much to baffle the reasonable mind over the past two days, that by
the end of the day yesterday viewers had to have been in a state of “Shock and
We got shocked and awed on Tuesday when George Felix
Allen pushed his way ahead of Dick Durbin to present an amendment as his own
that Durbin had tried to pass on an earlier bill and was preparing to present
again. Durbin had little choice but to allow the amendment to go forward with
Allen being the author of record. We have known for some time that the central
core of the Senate majority has no shame. Now we know that they have no honor
Yesterday it began again. The shock was that the
Democrats have finally gotten off of their collective backsides and have begun
to speak strongly about their dissatisfaction with the Administration in general
and Rumsfeld in particular over the conduct of the war in Iraq. The awe was in
watching the collective gall of Republicans who immediately criticized Democrats
for speaking out at all.
As usual, it was John Cornyn, Ted Stevens, Jon Kyle,
Jeff Sessions, Rick Santorum and Saxby Chamblis who were the most dismissive of
reality in their responses. In essence their response was to repeat the lies of
the past – that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, that just because
WMD’s weren’t found doesn’t mean that they weren’t there, that the
administration is fighting the good fight protecting us from the “terrorists”
keeping the fight off-shore, we’re safer today because of it, and anyone who
would speak out against the conduct of the war in Iraq is somehow unpatriotic
and bordering on treason.
Not one Republican had the nerve to say yesterday what
they’ve been saying in public for weeks – that Rumsfeld has gone too far and
needs to be replaced. The Republicans did have the nerve to use procedural
tactics to keep Harry Ried’s “Sense of the Senate” resolution from being voted
on. The only plausible reason for the action was to keep the public from seeing
how many Republicans have gone as far as they can go in support of a failed
Enough on that subject.
Yesterday evening the last speaker was Jay Rockefeller.
By this time it was hard to imagine that there could be one more “Shock and Awe”
assault on the senses of the American people. It happened anyway. Rockefeller is
the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee. His complaint was that for the
second year in a row the Intelligence Appropriations, which have been part of
the Defense Spending Bill since the early ‘70's, has been dropped from the bill
by the Majority Leader, Bill Frist, for the second year in a row. We know that
the Republican leadership doesn’t want to conduct oversight of the
Administration, but the brazenness of this tactic, refusing to give the
committee the power to function, is more than the people should be asked to
Today Senator Rockefeller is going to present an
amendment which would reinstate the Intelligence Appropriations in the current
Defense Spending Bill. Reasonable Americans can only hope that the Senate will
recover, and then exercise the power to oversee the actions of an
out-of-control, loose-cannon Secretary of Defense. His decisions have cost much
too much in terms of money, prestige, international allies, and world leadership
– not to mention the 2700 lives of our military and the thousands of innocent
Jay Rockefellers amendment was "withdrawn" by the Majority Leader - it
didn't even get a vote.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Good old Superman. Every day at 6:15 he would fly
around inside my radio. Muscles bulging from eating Kelloggs’s Pep, he always
knew when he was needed to defend “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”
As a kid I was sure that I knew what those things
meant. Today, I’m not so sure. And, you know, I don’t think our government knows
Truth should be easy to define, either what is said
matches reality or it doesn’t. If it does it’s true, and if it doesn’t it’s not
true. Simple enough until we are told so many lies that reality gets painted
over and lost to all but the most insistent searchers. Who was it attacked us on
9/11/01? And why did they do that?
Justice always seemed easy to understand. If you did
something wrong and got punished – that was justice. If you didn’t do it and got
punished, or if you did it and didn’t get punished that was not justice. Easy,
right? Not exactly. The Supreme Court recently punished a whole lot of folks who
simply had the audacity to own property that some rich folks wanted.
Now, as for The American Way, it doesn’t look at all
like I remember. I remember Superman, Tom Mix, Sky King, The Cisco Kid and a
host of others who spent all their time protecting people from the intrusion of
others. To be an individual, and to let others be individuals, was the key. As
long as people understood and honored the line between their rights and the
rights of others they were acting in the American way.
So, what does it say about the American way of life
when our government intrudes on the rights of individuals to raise a family or
not, to live in pain with an incurable disease or not, to set up housekeeping
with the person of their choice, or not? I know, by recent polls, that most
Americans still believe in the old definitions, but far too many seem to feel
that their rights supercede all others, and their rally cry is “My way or the
As the song says, I have to wonder “whatever happened
to Randolph Scott” and the rest of the heros who taught us values? Today we have
Pat Robertson telling us to love our neighbor, but kill Hugo Chavez, and Jerry
Falwell telling us that his God punished New York because gays lived there.
What’s astonishing is that these guys weren’t ridden out of town tarred and
feathered and hanging from a rail.
It’s true that the old heros didn’t teach us about a
god, but they did teach us how to live in a way that, unless someone followed us
around, no one would ever guess we didn’t go to church every Sunday. Our new
“heros” get some of us to do and say things that make other people wonder if we
ever saw the inside of a church or even heard of Jesus Christ.
Come next November we’ll all get a chance to see if in
Virginia, and elsewhere, the old American Way is a reality or a myth. We will
find out then if the staunch individual who respects other individuals is really
the hero America wants, or if exercising authority over others and demanding “My
way or the highway,” is the new American Way.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
In the field of dreams that is the United
some are yanking up the flowers of democracy
by the roots
The flowers of democracy are the
informed citizens who exercise
their right to vote. The soil the flowers grow in is made up of the multitude of
media outlets known around the world as America’s free press. The nutrient in
the soil is truth. The more truth, the more growth. The method of distribution
is the journalists and editors who see to it that the whole truth is told about
the things we need to know.
In some parts of the United States the soil is good,
the nutrients are well distributed and flowers grow brilliant and tall. In other
parts of the United States the soil has become rancid and the nutrients have
lost their strength to provide sustenance. In these areas the flowers don’t
bloom and the field of dreams begins to fail.
I have learned this week that the soil where I live is
rancid. This is how I know.
Not long ago I got a call from MoveOn.org organizers.
They were planing to run some political ads in my area, and were looking for
someone to be the local spokesperson. I had joined the MoveOn group online some
time ago and had submitted a few thoughts about what the direction should be,
etc. Evidently someone liked what they saw and they called me about joining the
upcoming events. I agreed, and the fun began.
The Congressperson in my district had cast several
votes in the House of Representative which clearly favored various lobbying
groups and also received significant campaign contributions from these same
groups. While this is not incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing, it is far
from a stretch for a reasonable person to question the possible connection of
these events, or even draw a more definitive conclusion.
A series of three ads were run. The first one not only
irked the congressperson, but also the largest newspaper in the area. The paper
ran an editorial highly critical of the MoveOn ads as misleading, but said
nothing about even more misleading ads the congressperson had released against
both the previous and current opponents. I thought it a little biased, but
dissenting letters were printed in later letters-to-the-editor and I let it be.
At the same time the editorial was run, events were
covered by the newspaper staff and were reported in a manner any journalist
would be proud of. Clear and complete articles were published. No one was
misquoted and nothing was taken out of context. The soil had begun to smell, but
the carriers of the nutrients were able to get the job done.
The second ad passed with a few short articles about
the “over-the-top” and misleading MoveOn ads, but no serious breaches of trust
on the part of the media.
The third, and last, ad was released last week, and
vinegar began to replace the water in the irrigation ditch.
The congressperson’s lawyers sent threatening letters
to all media running the ad. ABC, NBC and CBS replied by stating that there was
nothing about the ad to cause them to pull it, and the ad continues to run on
those stations. The response of the local cable distributor was quite different.
After beginning to run the ad on Wednesday, they
decided at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon to comply with the congresspersons request
and pull the ad. MoveOn was not contacted before the action was taken. On Monday
a prominent article appeared in the aforementioned newspaper telling the
community about the cable company pulling the “misleading” ad. Several attempts
on my part to glean some information from the company were met with polite
The local newspaper ran another scathing editorial
which included references such as “a
left-wing advocacy group (think Michael Moore)” and “liberal
wacko.” One columnist did a piece which in which her dislike of liberals
was plainly stated. She also has a blog, where all of her articles are posted
and can be commented on. I went there and took the time to get a password and of
course add my two cents to the half-penny column. When I went back later to see
if my comment was posted, I found that the column had been pulled from the blog.
All of the columns before and after were still there, only the one I responded
to was gone. The air was getting worse.
On Monday I submitted an article. On Tuesday I was
contacted to say that it would run on Wednesday. Here things got sticky. Because
I was representing MoveOn, I let the organizers know and they asked for time to
review the piece because they were planning some legal maneuver and it might
have an impact. Time passed, and MoveOn asked me to hold off on publication for
a day. I called the editor I had spoken with and, although he seemed
disappointed, he agreed.
Later that day I learned something new about the cable
company exec who pulled the ad. He had made significant personal contributions
to the Congresspersons political party, and so had another exec from the cable
company. It was getting hard to breathe.
This morning I learned from the newspaper that my
column presenting the MoveOn position wouldn’t be run - that the news department
would handle any new activity. At noon we had called a press conference to let
the people in our town know that we weren’t going to take this sitting down. The
press had always shown up before, but not today! When we refused to shut up,
they took away our megaphone.
Not much chance for the flowers of democracy to grow
here, the soil’s gone rancid and the field of dreams is in serious peril.
How 's the soil in your neck of the woods?
May 4, 2006
Who is minding the Virginia Beach municipal wallet?
When I left the house
to vote Tuesday, I imagined using the punch card system that Virginia Beach has
been using for years. Although a bit out-dated, the system has worked well and
did provide a sense of security that tallies could be recounted should there
ever be a question about the electronic tabulation. The ability to recount if
necessary is important to me. So much so, that on July 19, 2005 I went to
Richmond to address the
Subcommittee to Study the Certification, Performance, and Deployment of Voting
Equipment. At that time I spoke in favor
of a requirement for a Voter Verified Paper Trail.
I was very happy to
learn that on January 11, 2006,
SB 424 Electronic voting equipment; pertaining to procedures and requirements
was introduced in the
Election procedures; pollbooks, voting equipment
requirements and audits, and recount procedures. Requires (i) that
electronic pollbooks provide a contemporaneous and continuous paper printout of
the voters' names and identifying information as their names are recorded and
that the local electoral board conduct a postelection audit of the electronic
pollbooks; (ii) that direct recording electronic devices be equipped to produce
a paper record of each vote that can be verified by the voter and used in
recounts and that audits be conducted of a percentage of the equipment; and
(iii) that the source codes for software used in voting equipment be placed in
escrow with the State Board of Elections prior to certification of the equipment
for use in Virginia and that the source codes be examined by technical experts.
The bill also prohibits any form of wireless electronic communication capability
on any direct recorded electronic voting machine, optical ballot tabulator, or
other voting or counting device and requires that a percentage of paper ballots
be audited during recounts.
01/31/06, Senate: Continued to 2007 in Privileges and Elections (13-Y 0-N)
So, the Bill
was presented and would be addressed in 2007. However, the sense of the
committee had been delivered to the Senate. Imagine my surprise to see Diebold
Electronic Systems ACCU-VOTE TSX voting machines where the punch card stations
used to be. The warm sense of security that my vote could be recalled and
recounted if necessary was gone in an instant. I hurried home to my computer.
online research, I found that The Virginian-Pilot did report, on June 15, 2005,
that Virginia Beach would switch to these machines before May 2006. The title of
the article was “In Chesapeake”, so I’m not surprised I missed it. (http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/article.php?id=6002)
July 27, 2005, California Secretary of State Denied Diebold AccuVote-TSX Machine
Certification citing problems in testing, (http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/downloads/Bruce-DieboldMcPhersonLetter.pdf)
and made the test results public. (http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/ voting_systems/vstaab_volume_test_report.pdf)
And then on August
3, 2005, an article in the Daily Review stated “Diebold’s Problems Worse Than
Reported, Tests Find.” (http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/article.php?id=6257)
All of which
leaves me with a very nagging question.
Why would Virginia
Beach buy 899 ACCU-VOTE TSX voting machines, at a cost of about $2,900 each,
1. The machines
didn’t pass California testing requirements.
2. They may not
meet Virginia requirements in the very near future.
At $2.6 million
couldn’t we have waited one more election round in order to make sure that our
money was spent wisely? Maybe those who were elected by voters using these
machines will do a better job of looking out for our wallet. We can only hope.
April 28, 2006
The noise at the pump isn’t the only sucking sound you
For five hours yesterday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
stood his ground demanding a vote on his amendment to the Emergency Spending
Bill now before the Senate. He says that his amendment will generate more than
twenty billion dollars in revenue from oil companies to partially offset the 97
billion in emergency funds requested by President Bush. Senator Wyden talks
about eliminating diminished royalties and sweetheart deals which were setup
with oil companies at a time when oil was in short supply and the cost was
around $16 a barrel. It was an interesting five hours.
In the first place, it took a while to really get a
feel for what the situation was that Senator Wyden was trying to fix. The way I
see it the situation is this. Sometime back in the early ‘70's I remember that
OPEC raised the price of its oil and cut output. I was on a road trip, and the
price of gas went from 22 cents a gallon to 43 cents a gallon overnight. We
needed to do something to reduce our dependence on OPEC, so we reduced the speed
limit to 55mph and agreed to let oil companies drill on public lands. This is
where things get really murky.
I listened carefully, but I never did hear just how
much the oil companies pay us for the oil they suck from our property. Yes, I
said our property, yours and
mine. In this case, what we are talking about is a natural resource that belongs
to the U.S. Government, which is us.
Evidently, whatever price we thought was OK for the oil
companies to pay when the market value was $16 a barrel is still OK at $75 a
barrel. Senator Wyden takes exception to this idea and so do I. Unfortunately,
We-The-People seldom get to see the actual words that describe what our Senators
say they are trying to do, so we have to make some assumptions. Since I don’t
know exactly what is written, I assume that if the amendment is passed we will
begin to receive a fair market value for the oil we own.
Based on Senator Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) many refusals to
agree to a vote on the amendment, and Senator Pete Domenici’s (R-NM) insistence
that these provisions don’t cost us anything, some in the Senate are insisting
that whatever deals were made with the oil companies remain in place. The fact
that Exxon made about 35 Billion dollars last year and nine Billion already this
year doesn’t seem to faze these Senators.
To be fair, Senator Cochran seemed to be doing the job
of a good soldier and following marching orders from Senator Frist. Having said
that, I have to note that he was certainly not reluctant to do so. Senator
Domenici took a different tack, and stated that Senator Wyden’s amendment was
unnecessary because the deals with the oil companies don’t cost us anything. I
guess that means that since it’s oil and not cash that’s flowing into the oil
companies coffers it doesn’t count. Or maybe it’s because if the oil stays in
the ground we don’t get anything for it at all. I don’t know which reason he
used, but either way the logic sucks as much as the pump.
Obviously, the oil reserves in the Arctic won’t be such
a prize for the oil companies either. If they have to pay us full value for the
oil, maybe they won’t want it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just too bad.
But, there is something else that is also too bad.
Senator Wyden stood almost alone during his five-hour
filibuster. The only substantial support came from Senator Durbin (D-IL) who
took the time enter into a mock debate, which Senators often do to make a point
when both parties are on the same side of the question. Had a few others helped
in this way, maybe he could have gotten agreement for a vote. Unfortunately, it
was apparent that his cause was not important to other Senators who simply
wanted him to give up the floor so they could propose their own amendments.
Senator Wyden relinquished the floor at 3:20 yesterday
afternoon with the comment that evidently he will never be allowed a vote on his
amendment. I hope he is wrong. He took it upon himself to champion a cause for
us. He has been rebuffed. It is we who stand to lose. I, for one, will be
watching carefully to see how this plays out.
The November elections aren’t that far off. Maybe if
enough people pay attention to what each Senator is doing, more of them will do
what’s right for us.
A final note for the Senate. I know it sounds better to
call it public lands, but that’s our
oil the oil companies are sucking up from
our lands. Work with us here.
Make them pay full value for it.
March 12, 2006
On Capital Hill, the game is called on account of rain.
The game was not going well on Thursday, when Billy
had a tantrum. He had gathered with his friends for a little game of give and
take, but they just wouldn’t follow his rules. So, little Billy rained crocodile
tears, ranted that the other side wouldn’t play ‘fair’, and stopped the game.
Since he’s the leader, it is his house after all, he can do that. "And, since I
can, I will," seems to be what he told the rest of the kids who came to play.
No amount of adult counseling made any difference.
The game could not continue. But, that was not the real tragedy. The spectators
didn’t even seem to care. Maybe that’s because the sports writers only
interviewed their favorite players, and then chose to take sides rather than
report the game. If it were a Major League game, the fans would have stormed the
field if the players wouldn’t play. Obviously, this wasn’t the Majors, it wasn’t
even the Minors, it was just a sand lot game on Capital Hill.
The stakes in the game this week were high. Rules
are needed for the younger players in the game because there is no such thing as
a common agreement of the definition of sportsmanship. The new players have,
most assuredly, proven to the fans that any display of honor and integrity is
just for show. So, now rules are required. Players must be told how to act. You
might think that this would not be necessary, but in reality, the players in
this game are subject to the same foibles as players in the Majors. Some hot
shots just won’t accept being subject to the same rules as the rest of the team.
The other prize this week was just as great. Billy’s
uncle George was making a deal to turn over part of the playing field to a
foreign government. Not a foreign company, a foreign government. Most of the
players seemed to be in agreement, they wanted to stop the deal. But, Billy’s
uncle George had already been embarrassed enough by the players in the other
game, and that’s when little Billy threw his tantrum.
Since Billy and his friends have gotten control of
the game, only one team gets to bat. It doesn’t matter anymore how good a player
may be, how much experience he or she has, or how many fans support them, if
Billy doesn’t want them to bat, they can’t bat – and that’s the end of that.
What fun is there in watching this sort of nonsense?
Fans today ignore the game.
But, why should anyone complain?
No adult can save the day
when little Billy wants his way.
As little Billy hangs his head,
and crocodile tears are shed.
He mutters that ‘they’ won’t play fair.
It makes me want to pull my hair.
It used to be a grown-up’s game,
in the days before the children came.
February 17, 2006
Watching the Senate, If Only it was just a Movie
One of the few movies I’ve seen in recent years was The
Horse Whisperer. I really enjoyed it. But, it was enjoyable only after having
turned away from much of the first fifteen minutes. The visual description of
events leading up to the horrific accident, which was the foundation for the
movie, was agonizing. The audience watched the truck and horseback rider as they
moved closer and closer to the ultimate and unstoppable disaster. Finally it
happened – the gut wrenching impact in excruciating slow-motion detail.
When I left the theater, I told myself that I never
wanted to see anything like that again. Yet every day I record the Senate on
C-Span. Every day I am transfixed by the events which have already reached the
point of disaster-in-slow-motion. And, this time I’m not watching an accident.
What I see is the contrived destruction of the Senate as a deliberative body.
Day by day and bit by bit Senator Frist, in his position as majority leader,
denies and disregards the rights of other duly elected Senators to participate
in the legislative process. Yesterday was no exception.
When Senator Feingold was denied the opportunity to
propose an amendment to the Patriot Act, the horse’s head hit the grill of the
truck. Senator Frist spent several minutes lamenting what he called
obstructionism on the part of the minority. With tedious disingenuous sincerity,
he disgorged a litany of phony crimes committed by the minority. At the same
time Senator Frist was presenting meaningless amendments of his own simply to
“fill the tree,” which seems to be some rule about how many amendments can be
scheduled to be heard. But that was not the worst of it.
Several Senators spoke about how Senator Feingold’s
amendments should be heard, repeatedly citing that the purpose of the Senate is
be a participative deliberative body. The key word being participative. As I
have watched the proceedings of the past year I have heard many speeches.
However, discussion and debate on the floor of the Senate have become nearly
nonexistent. By abusing his authority as majority leader, to manipulate who gets
to offer amendments, and by insisting on cloture motions before any meaningful
debate can take place, he has halted the legislative process. In its place,
Senator Frist has instituted a President's Rubber Stamp Entourage of
Yesterday, the minority was complicit in the
implementation of Senator Frist’s new PRSE. When Senator Frist made a
motion for cloture on the Patriot Act, which should truly be renamed the
Un-American Activities Legalization Act, the PRSE approved the motion
97-3, and meaningful debate was terminated. Several provisions of the Act
clearly undermine provisions of Constitutional Amendments 1, 4, which have
already been declared unconstitutional in Circuit courts. So much for the Bill
Regardless of the failings of the Act, cloture should
have been denied by the minority solely on the basis of ensuring the legitimacy
of the legislative process.
By disregarding this opportunity to put the brakes on
the abuse of power by Senator Frist, the truck hit the rider, and the rider is
badly injured. Our duly elected Senators are in a state of shock. Walking and
talking but unaware of their surroundings, they need to wake up - soon. Who will
whisper to them?
News or Views?
Where you get your news can cause you to reflect, or
cause you to react.
Yesterday the Senate voted to uphold a point of order
on S852, a bill addressing problems with asbestos
litigation. The result of the vote returns the bill to
committee for reassessment. A comparison of the reports of
two major news sources provides some insight into what
readers are up against in their search for understanding.
In the New York Times, a report by Steven Labaton on
Wednesday, February 15, 2006, carries the headline
“Asbestos Bill is Sidelined by the Senate.” From the
Washington Post, the headline of a report by staff writer
Shailagh Murry, on the same day reads “Senate Foes Block
Proposed Trust Fund for Asbestos Victims.” One headline
states a bare fact, the other presents that same fact with
an emotional kicker.
The opening paragraphs are also different in the same
way. From the Times we are told, “with powerful interests
on both sides [the vote] did not break down along party
lines.” But, the Post tells us that the vote was “a
victory for Democrats and their trial-lawyer allies who
waged a relentless campaign to defeat a bill that took
five years to negotiate.”
Following the opening paragraphs, both articles
provided numerous quotes from both sides and a clear
understanding of the issues, what occurred and why.
However, the headlines and opening paragraphs provided two
completely different windows on the news. The Times window
was clear and unobstructed while the Post window had a
definite republican red tint. Before presenting the news,
the Washington Post article emphasized “a relentless
campaign to defeat a bill that took five years to
negotiate.” The only purpose for making this statement is
to elicit emotional response, and shade the content which
Purely as an aside, who cares how long it takes to
build something that doesn’t get the job done? This
argument was restated ad nauseam on the floor of the
Senate. It’s a bad argument. When a wheel chair is needed,
a crutch just won’t work, no matter how long it took to
When I write I want to elicit emotional response. I want
people to see my point of view, so I use adverbs,
adjectives and nuance to set the stage for what I want to
say. I know that if I can adjust the perspective of the
reader, I can change the weight of information to either
emphasize or diminish its impact . But, I am not a news
reporter, I editorialize. I know it and you know it. You
take that into account when reading this article. I don’t
call what I do ‘reporting the news’, and neither should
anyone else who does what I do.
Therefore, I will end with this thought. Editorial
comments are not only a right, but an obligation of all
major news sources. After all, who else has access to as
much information and the time to read and analyze it?
Shading editorials is expected, how could it be otherwise?
But, readers beware, the difference between education and
indoctrination can be almost indiscernible when presented
by a trusted and skillful source. When a major news source
shades the news, either red or blue, they do an immense
disservice to the journalism profession, and to their
A little more Roosevelt to Rove
Elected in November 1932, three years into the Great
Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the 32nd President
of the United States in January 1933. Beginning with a
nation of farmers and wage-earners permeated with a sense of
hopelessness, he ended with a nation filled with hope. In
twelve short years he transformed the political landscape,
and in January of 1945 he proposed a ‘Second Bill of
Rights’. This second bill of rights would ensure that
everyone in the United States would share in the benefits
provided by the vast resources and wealth of a great nation.
On April 12, 1945, he died. On that day an effort began
on behalf of the moneyed interests in the United States, to
undo each and every social program he introduced. It was an
enormous task. The ideas which FDR presented in the Second
Bill of Rights had taken hold, and much new legislation to
achieve his goal was already in the planning stage.
In September of 1945 I started school. FDR was history on
the day I began watching the hope for a real Second Bill of
Rights dissipate, and the original Bill of Rights viciously
attacked. It took the wealthy oligarchs fifty-five years of
working behind the scenes to prepare for the dismantling of
a government dedicated to sharing the wealth of the country.
On December 12, 2000, the battle was engaged in earnest.
On that day, the Supreme Court took it upon itself to
interfere in the contested election of a President. As
defined in Supreme Court opinion No.00-949, issued on
December 12, 2000, the Court found for the plaintiff and
stopped a recount in process. The concurring opinions all
stressed the letter of vague Florida law, while the
dissenting opinions stressed the intent of the law, and the
right of the lower court oversee the process. To an outside
non-lawyer, my interpretation was, and remains, that the
judgment was predetermined and the law was searched for
corroboration. The effect of this decision was that a
candidate who did not win the popular vote, nor win the
election according to exit polls, was placed in the office
of President of the United States.
A review of the evidence which has been on full display
in the public forum leaves is only one rational conclusion.
The United States government and the American people have
been, since January 20, 2001, under siege by a moneyed
oligarchy fronted by a so-called Neo Conservative movement.
Outrageous, you say! Yes, it most certainly is outrageous.
With phase one completed, that of acquiring the
Presidency, the Neocons began to implement a series of moves
intended to marginalize, if not fully decimate, the
Legislative Branch of government. A somewhat Neocon Supreme
Court had already begun the process of redefining some
Congressional legislation and simply dismissing other pieces
of legislation as ‘unconstitutional’. The result of these
decisions minimizes the power of the Legislative Branch of
the federal government by shifting power to the states.
In addition, President Bush’s use of “signing statements”
at the time of signing bills into law, further marginalizes
Congress in the eyes of the public. What good is a law if
the ultimate enforcer, the President, can choose which parts
of which laws he will or will not enforce? The result is
that the Congress becomes a ‘weak sister’ instead of an
equal partner in the government.
The Neocons know that an educated and aware public could
do something about this situation at the polls. Therefore,
it was necessary to keep the public ignorant of the truth,
angry at Congress and, at the same time, otherwise engaged
in purely emotional issues. Under these conditions it is
easy to diminish the value of government in the eyes of the
There are a number of ways to do this, and the Neocons
have used them all. Our once rich nation is now broke and in
debt to our most formidable economic adversaries. How did it
happen? First, the treasury was raided by a ‘tax return’
which gave a few pennies to the farmers and wage-earners
while showering huge amounts of money on the already rich.
Second, we were conned into a war which expended our
military assets which then had to be replaced. Third, we
were besieged by theft, graft, and corruption by the
mercenary corporations hired to do the jobs our military
should have done for itself. The result of all of this is an
empty treasury and a national debt that generations of
farmers and wage-earners will pay for in poor health care,
low wages and no retirement.
To make matters worse for the nation and better for the
hidden oligarchy, Hurricane Katrina presented a marvelous
opportunity to further diminish the public’s faith in our
government. By doing almost nothing, by performing badly
when something was done, and by opening the flood gates to
more graft, corruption and thievery, it was demonstrated to
everyone that not only the Legislative Branch, but the
Administrative Branch as well, is uncaring and incompetent.
Why, then, should anyone vote? Why, then, should anyone
take the time to investigate candidates so a good choice can
be made? If you think these thoughts, the Neocon process is
working just fine.
But, that’s not all. Just neutering the U.S. government
only takes care of a small portion of the worlds farmers and
wage-earners. In order for the oligarchy controlling
corporate interest to fully succeed, national borders have
to be negated. Again this means overcoming an FDR initiative
which came into being shortly after he died. In 1945 a
meeting was held in San Francisco attended by representative
of fifty countries. The UN charter was drafted. It was
ratified on October 24,1945.
In recent years, Neocons have launched attacks on the
United Nations at every opportunity. The fact that it was
under funded, limited by the veto power of the Security
Council, and that some of its members, including the United
States, were susceptible to corruption, helped a great deal.
The Neocon effort to marginalize the U.N. is well under way.
In addition, our government either aided in, or
choreographed the destruction of several neighboring
democratic governments which were properly elected and led
by advocates of the people. There isn’t room here to present
the evidence, so I’ll leave it to the interested and
concerned reader to do a little research.
Why did it take forty-five years to prepare for this
onslaught? Simply because none of it could have been done
from positions outside the governments which needed to be
dispensed with. It took a lot of planning and organization
to get enough Senators and Congresspersons elected who would
be complicit in attaining their objectives. Attaining the
Presidency in 2000 by any means possible was an absolute
must. Placing Neocons on the Supreme Court and in positions
of power in the U.N. have just about completed this phase of
conquest. There is little left to do except to administer
the Coup de Gras.
Many, maybe even most readers, will dismiss these words
with ridicule. How could this be? Such a long drawn out
conspiracy is unimaginable! It is unimaginable that people
such as Senators, Congresspersons, Supreme Court Justices,
and Ambassadors to the U.N. would participate in such a
process! It’s lunacy!
I sincerely hope that those people are correct, and that
my analysis of events is utterly wrong. I would even accept
‘Idiotic’. Unfortunately, everything I have seen and heard
since I started paying attention in school sixty years ago,
and especially everything I have seen and heard in the last
six of those years, says I’m right.
If I’m right, we have no more than a few short years, as
an enlightened and aware electorate, to excise the Neocon
cancer from our government through the electoral process.
After that it will be impossible. If I’m right, we may soon
find ourselves in a world controlled by corporations which
can ignore national governments, buy and sell natural
resources and people at will, and even wage war with
corporate armies. If I’m right, in a future of corporate
governors, corporate laws, corporate police, and even
corporate armies, the world of George Orwell’s 1984 may very
well be dreamed of as paradise.
I don’t think it would be wise to simply hope that I am
The Presidents Apologist
In an interview on cspan this morning, Senator Kyle defended the
President’s initiative of warrantless wiretapping by the NSA. He did
so in the same fashion as has been evident in much of the press
coverage. What’s wrong with wiretapping in a search for terrorists,
he asked? The answer to that question is obviously that there is
nothing wrong with wiretapping in a search for terrorists. There is
a problem, however, with doing it without a court order. It says so
in the Bill of Rights. But, that question was not addressed this
morning, and will never be addressed by an apologist for the
“Partisan politics” is a phrase which was repeated many times
during Senator Kyle’s speech and in the Q&A which followed. Pointing
to “the Democrats,” Senator Kyle suggested that the people who call
for investigation and even possible impeachment of President Bush
are doing so because they are Democrats. That is simply not the
case. In fact, he’s got it backwards. They are Democrats because
they believe in the principles of the “New Deal,” “the great
society,” and the Bill of Rights.
There is one thing common to all Democrats. They insist on being
individuals. Because of this, one of the favorite lines for a
Republican is that Democrats have no central core ideology. Well,
that’s right. Democrats don’t look at party politics as a religious
endeavor. They are people who think alike and have banded together.
They are not people who banded together to learn how to think.
When a Democrat thinks through an issue and then speaks their
mind, and is then accused of being ‘partisan’ - simply parroting the
party line, that individual has received the ultimate insult.
Senator Kyle should be ashamed of himself. Surely, he wouldn’t want
his careful deliberation reduced to such a level. However, since
Senator Kyle has opened the door, I have this to say about that.
As I watch C-Span, I find that much of the apologetic rhetoric
which attempts to justify the excesses of the President is about as
shallow as a puddle of water on a glass tabletop. Therefore, I find
those arguments without reflective thought and clearly partisan. I
find Senator Kyle’s effort in this regard to be on that same level.
It is amazing, to me, how easily Senator Kyle avoided all mention of
the one salient underlying issue during his speech. I didn’t hear
him once mention the Fourth Amendment, which clearly and concisely
prohibits unwarranted searches.
The President does not have the authority, no matter how much he
wishes he did, to disregard the Bill of Rights. Saying he has the
right does not make it so.
It’s one thing for political pundits, and even corporate news
editors, to engage in spin, obfuscation, misdirection, and all the
other methods used to redefine reality. It’s quite another when a
Senator, someone who should be demonstrating the epitome of honor
and integrity, uses these same tactics.
February 13, 2006
Neocon is not Republican
Who was it that tattled on the President for spying on us? The
Neocons are hot on the trail. When they find that despicable individual
who couldn’t keep his mouth shut I hope he gets just what he deserves –
The Congressional Medal of Honor. While we wait for that to happen,
though, we are getting another lesson in the propaganda process of the
To be sure, not everyone who voted for Bush/Cheney has had a change
of heart. Many are getting exactly what they wanted and expected.
However, major news polls show us that, as prices rise and wages fall,
the number of voters in that group is dwindling. What is a good Neocon
to do? The answer is out there in the news.
Nobody wants to have to admit they were ever wrong about anything.
So, the thing to do is to give people a quick comeback which is so
outrageous that it stops rational thought long enough for them to get
away. That way they never have to admit to themselves or anyone else
that they were complicit in their own destruction.
A lot of good God-fearing people are still repeating the Neocon lie
that Iraq was involved in 9-11. But, a lie is still a lie. People talk
about how Republicans support our troops. But, in Iraq the troops don’t
have enough body armor. If troops buy their own armor, the military
threatens to strip death benefits if soldiers die while wearing it. (See
Soldiers for Truth) Neocons support the military/industrial complex,
not the troops. Neocon support for the troops is a lie.
The President tells us he has the right to spy on us. Congress
disagrees. Congress wrote the legislation, so the President is lying.
But, you still hear the lie repeated in the press.
And, how about the “I care about seniors,” lie. I turned 65 last
year. As I prepared my taxes this year, I was more than a little upset.
This is the first year I can remember that being 65 didn’t qualify as an
additional dependent deduction. So much for the “I care about seniors,”
What can you say to the person who insists on repeating a lie simply
to keep from saying “I made a mistake?” Nothing. When a person tells you
the water is cold, sticks their hand in it and gets scalded, and then
still tells you the water is cold, there is nothing to do but shake your
head and pity them. Any expectation of those folks ever becoming
thoughtful, informed voters is sheer idiocy.
A few Republican Senators appear to have come to the conclusion that
lies have influenced their prior thinking, and that Neocon values are
not Republican values. They are saying so on the floors of Congress
today. We can only hope that their change of heart is the result of soul
searching, and not the November elections.
Outside of Congress there are a number of articles still being
written which excuse the Presidents’ crimes and lies. That’s the beauty
of the Neocon strategy. So many people seem to rely on lies to defend
having voted for the Neocon regime. Believing the lie saves face.
I might suggest that those folks are pouring good money after bad,
but unfortunately a whole lot of them are broke. Buying the lies, saving
face and losing your shirt. What a shameful epitaph for the democratic
By the way, what was that Commandment about lying?
February 11, 2006
What about that asbestos bill?
The Senate Judiciary Committee finally launched S852 on the sea of the
Senate last week. After days of assault from all sides, asbestos or not,
S852 is burning badly, and there may be just too many holes in it to keep
it afloat. A juggernaut, S852 was commissioned to conquer the many
problems associated with asbestos litigation.
S852 has an icebreaker bow, intended to plow through the frozen court
system. Breaking the ice consists of stopping all litigation immediately,
unless it is being heard by a judge or jury. In the process, it capsizes
Amendment 7 of the Bill of Rights in the bow wave.
Buried in its dark and almost impenetrable hold, is a collection of
monetary notes called a ‘trust fund’. How it was determined who will pay,
and how much they will pay was established by a subcontractor of the
design committee. Unfortunately the subcontractor who designed the ‘trust
fund’ had to be subpoenaed to find out how it was constructed. This part
of the design has been classified ‘Confidential’, so repairing it may be
S852 is intended to sail for 50 years on the fuel provided by the notes
in the hold. Unfortunately, actual fuel consumption data is unavailable
and many believe the ship is destined to flounder before it completes its
journey. In its wake, along with the dashed hopes of those who have been
preparing for court, but not there yet, will be Amendment 7 in the Bill of
The best thing about the S852 is that it has a deck for many victims
who had been left adrift on an old slave ship. By government decree,
anyone who was contaminated with asbestos while performing military
service could not sue the government, or anyone else, for damages. So
getting those people off of the slave ship and on the deck of S852 is a
really good thing.
Watching the battle, as a fleet of destroyers attacks S852, is a sad
reminder of real life on Senate Sea. There are so many destroyers engaged
in attacks, and so many shots from S852s tenders, that the waves are just
too high to build a solid dry-dock platform on which to fully inspect the
A really conscientious design team might do this:
1. Scuttle S852.
2. Redefine the mission as: Fully protect all victims of asbestos
poisoning at a minimum cost, without endangering the rights of citizens to
petition the courts.
3. Using the examples of those states having already made progress in
reducing and streamlining litigation, remove any statute of limitations on
the right to petition, and institute a ‘pending’ docket for anyone not
presently showing symptoms of asbestos disease.
4. Require ‘doctor/patient’ relationship between the certifying
physician and the claimant.
5. Set limits on awards which ensure that victims are ‘made whole’ for
past and future medical expenses and lost wages, but eliminate a jury’s
ability to assess punitive damages, or windfalls for ‘pain and suffering’.
6. Set attorneys fees at payment for ‘billable hours’, to be assessed
and paid separate and apart from the plaintiffs’ award.
7. Create a trust fund similar to S852 to ‘make whole’ the military
personnel who were exposed to asbestos products manufactured by the same
companies being sued in civil court, but are themselves denied access to
8. If, in the course of a hearing, corporations are found to be
criminally negligent or indifferent to the harm caused, they are to be
charged and prosecuted in criminal court.
If these design criteria were used, the resulting ship would likely
sail effortlessly through the courts and deliver its cargo of compensation
to all victims of asbestos disease until the disease has run its course.
However, the battle continues with a number of tenders and destroyers
fully engaged. No seaworthy flagship, with a contingent of conscientious
designers, is to be found. The battle will end, but there is little hope
that the war for the relief of asbestos victims will end well.
If S852 is sunk, the military victims of asbestos will remain on their
drifting slave ship, waiting for some other ship to rescue them. If S852,
with its destructive wake, survives, it may very well not make all the
intended ports of call, leaving far too many victims of asbestos to
survive on their own. Even more unfortunate, there is no other ship in the
If only the fleet would raft together, calm the sea, and design a
proper ship for the task.
February 8, 2006
Like most Americans, I get a lot of requests for donations to political
campaigns. Every day someone is telling me what’s wrong, and how they need
my money to fix the problem. Each letter or email addresses one or two
issues that happen to be in the limelight at the moment. Not one of them
addresses the underlying problem. Today the buzz word is asbestos
legislation or the Fair bill, which seems about as fair as the games at the
I detest frivolous lawsuits, and the get-rich-quick litigants who expect
far more than they deserve for compensation of sometimes nearly
imperceptible harm. Even more, I detest the huge unwarranted and
monopolistically imposed 30-40% attorneys’ fees. However, over the past
several years, under the guise of correcting this problem, our government
has been instrumental in moving money from the poor to the rich, and
destroying the right of the people to petition for redress.
Today the Senate is discussing another bill, the third in a series of
legislative initiatives, which accomplish this goal. First it was the arms
manufacturers, then it was the pharmaceutical industry, and now it’s the
asbestos industry. Systematically, the right of the individual to challenge
corporations in court is being written out of our laws. But, these things
only hint at the problem.
Couple these efforts with the effort of the President to amass power in
the Administrative Branch, and his dismissal of the Bill of Rights, our
democracy is being marginalized by the very people we expect to protect it.
It is absolutely mind boggling that so many of our Senators and
Congresspersons are willing to support measures which dismiss the
Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. There
can be only one reason for their actions. The United States is fully engaged
in a civil war between the haves and the have-nots. Only one side knows the
war is raging. It is painfully evident that very many of those we elected to
fight for the people have become mercenaries of the have-mores.
Efforts to pass legislation to protect the electoral process from abuse
can’t get to the floor of either house. The only possible reason for this is
that such legislation would guarantee the proper function of the democratic
process. Enough evidence exists to seriously question, if not prove
outright, that major elections have been stolen in recent years.
Entitlement programs, which were initiated to ensure that even the
poorest in our nation would share in the wealth derived from our tremendous
resources, have been decimated. At the same time, the richest are given tax
breaks they don’t need. Is it so that the rich can hoard money they can’t
possibly live long enough to spend in even the most reckless fashion? No.
The purpose can only be to bankrupt and minimize a government which gets in
the way of corporate interests.
Further, secrecy has become the byword of the majority in congress. It
appears evident that the only purpose can be to ensure that any information
which might truly enlighten the people of the United States is kept from
The painful truth is that only a democracy of the people and by the
people will ensure that our government is, and remains, for the people. A
fully functioning democratic republic, with elected representative who truly
worked for the people, would not stand for the kind of legislation passed in
There are a number of champions of the people in Congress. They work hard
to support average Americans on each piece of legislation. However, not one
of them has addressed the undeniable cumulative effect of the legislation in
total. At least not in a public forum. The true danger to average Americans
can be seen by anyone who will take the time to look carefully at Congress
in action. Our representative government, and the right of all individuals
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is under siege from within.
The war is fully engaged. Only one side is aware, even though casualties on
the other side mount as health care becomes more expensive and less
February 6, 2006
Is it News or is it
An article in the New York Times on February 6, 2006, Calling Clinton
‘Angry,’ G.O.P. Chairman Goes on the Attack, is a story in itself. It reports
an event, an interview of Ken Mehlman by George Stephanopoulos. It is news
because the speaker is a prominent political figure. There is nothing in the
article to cause anyone to question the truthfulness of the report itself.
That's the beauty of it.
The following three paragraphs from that article tell another story which,
based on a lack of reporting from other sources, goes virtually undetected.
“"I don't think the American people, if you look historically, elect angry
candidates," Mr.Mehlman told George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program "This
Referring to Mrs. Clinton's assertion that Republicans were running
Congress like a plantation, he said, "Whether it's the comments about the
plantation or the worst administration in history, Hillary Clinton seems to
have a lot of anger."
"There's a lot of talk about a new Hillary Clinton, but if you look at the
record, it's a very left-wing record," Mr. Mehlman said, adding that her
record did not reflect the values of most Americans.”
Nothing wrong there, right? Look at the exchange again. The country has
just been given a lesson in the application of the Neocon debating formula.
Take note that these are Neocon, not Republican, debating rules. They are not
the kind of tactics used by my Republican friends, but the ideas are often
repeated as fact. Which, of course, is the intent of the debating formula in
the first place.
Note: This writing is not a pitch for Senator Clinton. I don’t live in New
York, and 2008 is still a long way away.
Here are the rules:
1. Create a false foundation.
2. Place the subject firmly on the foundation.
3. Vilify the subject with a carefully crafted distortion.
4. Reinforce the first lie with another lie.
For the record, I consider anything which is not totally factual, the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, to be a lie. Looking back
at the interview, here is how it worked.
False foundation – the American people don’t elect angry candidates.
Consider the anger of the Republican Party about corruption in government, how
that anger was expressed, and who won control of the Congress in 1994. So much
for the false premise.
Associate the subject – “seems to have a lot of anger." I don’t
think even Mrs. Clinton would argue about that, but - it’s the association
with the initial false and misleading premise that is important.
Vilify the subject with a distortion – Hillary Clinton has a very
left wing record. The question here is the word “very.” Obviously, as a
Democrat, Senator Clinton is left of the Neocon position on just about
everything, but not that far left of moderate Republicans. She stands to the
right of the extreme liberals on abortion and solutions for Iraq, and in
working with Republicans on several issues.
The closing lie – Senator Clinton’s record does not reflect the
values of most Americans. This is a double score in the debate. It introduces
the catch word “values” and helps make a lie seem like the truth. In fact,
according to several polls, Senator Clinton’s record is consistent with the
views, sensibilities and values of a majority of Americans. For confirmation,
I refer you to http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/ to review her
voting record for yourself, and to any of the nationally recognized polling
sites to see what Americans really think.
The effect of the process is to alter the publics' perception of reality.
Unfortunately, it works. It works well. But, it is only part of this story.
The other part is the news media. What facts did the reporter uncover? What
information did the article present that anyone really needs to know? How does
this article help anyone make the kind of informed decision required of a
voter? Why was the article printed in the first place?
If this were a single article presented in a single U.S. news outlet, these
questions would be no more than good discussion points for a journalism class.
However, articles like this have become increasingly more evident in the past
several years and have significantly shaped the political landscape. Attacks
in this format have been the undoing of the likes of Max Cleland, John Kerry
and John McCain. In all cases, the attacks were presented as ‘news’ by the
media, and given much more time and space than the efforts made to correct the
There is only one plausible conclusion to be drawn from this. The major
news outlets which are complicit in this kind of pseudo-journalism are no
longer the unbiased protectors of truth that they once were. Honor and
intellectual integrity are values which have been discarded by corporate owned
media in favor of politically motivated propaganda.
That’s the story behind the story –
Now the Epilogue.
America is in dire need of a national political news outlet which will
present the truth substantiated by fact, and refuse to participate in the
convoluted pseudo-journalism which has decimated our faith in the industry. A
very costly endeavor to be sure. Who among the wealthy will take up the cause
of restoring honor and intellectual honesty to the Fourth Estate? Who will
lead the effort to ensure that our government of the people, by the people,
and for the people, does not, as Lincoln said, perish from the earth? Is there
February 1, 2006
Solving the Riddle of
the State of the Union Speech
times it looked like a High Catholic Mass with all those well-dressed folk
sitting, standing, sitting, standing ad nauseam while the preacher spread the
word. That’s as far as the analogy goes, however. There was a lot of colorful
content in the President’s speech. And, since the audience was wearing colored
glasses – a different color for each faction – it’s no surprise that the true
colors of the presidents words were not easily discernable.
The truth is carefully hidden. The trick is to find
out what color the president’s glasses are. That is not an easy task, because he
doesn’t want you to see what he sees. But, it is possible. By watching those
whose glasses you can see, and paying attention to how colors mix to create new
colors, you can get bits and pieces of the picture from the audience. What you
have then, is a box of fragments – like a jigsaw puzzle with no picture on the
When you shake the box to view the pieces, a lot of
different images come to mind. No matter, it’s part of the game. Just keep
shaking the box until one image comes to mind more often that the rest. But
remember, you are also wearing colored glasses. You and I and our neighbors,
each with different colored glasses, will then try to convince each other that
what we see is the true picture. But, is there only one true picture? No. There
are several, so what do we do now, argue about which is more true than the rest?
That is what usually happens. Let’s try something different.
Let’s imagine that each picture can be etched on a
sheet of glass. Then let’s put all the pictures in a pile, line them up, and see
if we get a new composite picture, or just a nonsensical blur.
There is a picture of America engaged in a righteous
and glorious war against terrorism in Iraq, for which $350 billion well-spent
dollars and 2300 soldiers lives have been paid.
There is a picture of America engaged in an
imperialist adventure in Iraq, which has wasted 350 billion dollars and
destroyed many thousands of innocent lives.
There is a picture of a strong American Economy with
high corporate profits and high return on investments.
There is a picture of a failing American Economy
with stagnant or falling wages and rising cost of necessities.
There is a picture of a strong American President
using the full constitutional power of his office, boldly leading the country to
preserve freedom, spread Democracy and protect the homeland.
There is a picture of a President overstepping his
authority, taking us to unnecessary war, spreading American corporate interests,
and doing little to protect the homeland.
There is a picture of a President urging Congress
give him rightly needed new authority to gather intelligence on Americans
because some of them might be working for the enemy.
There is a picture of a President already abusing
his authority now demanding new power from Congress to spy on his personal
enemies and any Americans who might not approve of the direction of his
There is a picture of a President championing the
cause for strong support of Christian values, which are the values of the
There is a picture of a President demanding that the
rights of some are trampled for no better reason than ensuring the support of
There is a picture of an American President working
hard to unite the country by providing clear goals which should appeal to
There is a picture of an American President
carefully manipulating his words and the legislation he suggests to create and
maintain deep divisions in society.
There is a picture of a President asking Congress
for the power of Line-Item-Veto in order to help stamp out pork-barrel-spending.
There is a picture of a President who is demanding
Line-Item-Veto power in order to disregard those compromises of hard-working
members of Congress that don’t fit his purposes.
There is a picture of a President asking congress to
balance the budget by reducing spending for entitlements.
There is a picture of a President asking congress to
renege on earlier promises to assist those most in need.
There is a picture of a President asking for tax
cuts for the nation.
There is a picture of a President asking for tax
cuts for the rich.
When the pictures are finally stacked, one on the
other, there is little doubt about the underlying reality. There are two clear
and indisputable images which show through all the conflicting visions of
right-wrong, good-bad, peace-war, etc. The images are of the movement of money
from the poor to the rich, and the movement of power from Congress and the Court
to the Presidency. The combined effect of these movements is to concentrate
wealth, and to ensure that the voice of the people, acting through Congress or
the Court, will soon be too weak to do anything about it.
President Bush’s State of the Union Speech was
carefully crafted to present the proposals which keep these processes moving. At
the same time the speech was intended to blur our vision with images which
played to our emotions of fear, hatred, greed, and self-righteousness. The
speech was extremely well written, and President Bush presented it with the
skill of a great orator.
The future is now in the hands of those who still
have the power to reverse these movements. Only if they have the wisdom to
perceive, the desire to act, and the determination to prevail, will we avoid a
future in which a very few enjoy the fruits of the labor of a vast majority.
You've heard my answer. Did I solve the riddle or
not? The most important question is -- what do you think?
January 29, 2006
A Time For
is America so politically divided? Could it be that a game mentality has
replaced wisdom in our government? This should be a rhetorical question, but
unfortunately it is not. Winner-take-all may be good for baseball, but
definitely not for a democratic government. Far too many citizens seem to feel
that when "their side" wins an election, the elected representative is
responsible only to them. The representative also relies on this bizarre notion
to press the agenda of the party they represent. This position is selfish,
childish and extremely destructive to our form of democratic government.
Many recent elections have been decided by an
extremely thin margin. The adolescent winner-take-all mentality demonstrated by
a majority of Senators and Representatives today allows them to dispassionately
disregard up to 49.9% of the people they are supposed to represent. The voting
records which substantiate the positions taken by each Senator and
Congressperson are available at
Unfortunately, the decisions of the Executive Branch are classified secret and
have been impounded.
In the past five years of dominance over both houses
of Congress and the Presidency, the Republican Party has taken this high school
definition of winning to a degree seldom seen outside the arena of spectator
sports. One thing is certain, the opinions of half of the population of the
United States today are having little impact on decisions which affect them.
The latest cries of
Bush-won-so-give-him-what-he-wants, is an extreme example of adolescent
thinking. When we elect a President we understand that he will have leanings
toward one position or another which are different from many of us. However, we
do not expect the "losing side" to be ostracized from the political process. We
do not expect that the President will act like some college football star and
insist that his way is the only way, and only the wants of his team matter. We
do expect the President to be an example of wisdom and statesmanship. We expect
that his leadership is such that not one citizen feels that their opinion didn’t
matter, even when decisions are made contrary to that persons desire.
President George W. Bush shows every indication of
desiring Coronation. His use of recess appointments and signing statements
demonstrate a contempt for the will of the people which is further demonstrated
by his condescending doublespeak. There can be no doubt that our President lied
us into war, we have documentation to prove it. There can be no doubt that his
agenda trumps ours, and he keeps his agenda carefully hidden. There can be no
doubt that he perpetuates a divided electorate in order to keep us busy fighting
amongst ourselves so we have little interest in watching him unravel our
Constitution. The smirk on his face, when presenting his position was once
considered an unfortunate mannerism. The performance of his branch of the
government in times of crisis leaves not a hint of doubt that his smirk reflects
his security in knowing that even if we can prove he is lying there is nothing
we can do about it.
To make matters worse, reflections of the
President’s condescension can be seen on the faces of far too many members of
Congress as they disregard confirmed facts during their speeches in favor of
uttering hyperbole when justifying their positions. Those congresspersons play
the adolescent game of follow-the-leader instead of demonstrating the
compassion, understanding and wisdom we should hope for and expect to find in
those elected to such high office. Every day that passes brings us closer to the
destruction of the government our founders formed and fought for.
That fight, the American Revolution, was necessary,
as we know, in order to get out from under the contemptuous rule of their own
King George. Our government, and the very essence of who we are, is at risk
today. It is past the proper time for impeachment, but not too late to get the
job done. If we don’t do it now, we may very well not have sufficient rights
remaining to get it done in the future. In the game being played today there
will be only one winner. If it is the President, he will assume winner-take-all.
For all our sakes, the winner must be "We the People."
Are those books for Education or
Due to our public schools failure to prepare young
adults for participation in our government, the phrase, "a government of the
people, by the people, and for the people," is little more than a collection of
pretty sounding words which convey a warm, fuzzy feeling. Our constitution tells
us we are a "nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that
all men are created equal." Abraham Lincoln’s question of whether "any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure," is being answered in the negative
as we watch.
Today we are in a class war, but only one side knows
it’s raging. We are in an economic war, but only one side understands the rules.
Our government is waging war against itself, but it is being ignored because the
average voter believes they have no voice in the matter. A lot of prominent
people and a great many ordinary citizens have stated that most voters aren’t
smart enough or aware enough to properly exercise the duty and responsibility of
voting. That’s a very harsh pronouncement. The fact is that the electorate is
intelligent enough, but woefully uneducated in critical areas. The vast majority
appear to be simply ignorant of exactly how our social, political and economic
High school students are prepared to work and earn a
living in society, and that’s good. But, they are not taught to be critical of
the social, political and economic system they live under until they have had a
chance to cast their first ballot. Probably most, by that time, have adopted the
political party and social attitude of their parents or peers without a second
thought. Then, if they attend college they may begin to discuss these issues.
The discussion, unfortunately by that time, is undertaken with extreme
There are three basic lies taught to every public
school child. These lies are incessantly repeated and reinforced until
graduation. 1) America is a classless society. 2) Anything which is good for
business is good for the working people. 3) Judges, Congresspersons, and the
President work equally hard for all citizens. Anyone who believes even one of
these lies is not prepared to function as part of "We the People" when it’s time
This situation was born in the late 1940's, after the
death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the end of World War II. In the
years prior to that time, our society and our economy were becoming more and
more socialist, as the Congress and the President worked to ensure the well
being of all citizens. Then, under the guise of keeping our country safe from
our enemies, Senator Joe McCarthy launched his campaign to drive communism out
of the country. No one was beyond the reach of his powerful committee, and by
the time the committee was disbanded there wasn’t a grade school student in the
country who could define democracy, socialism, capitalism or Communism as a
unique idea. Capitalism is the economic system of a democracy, which is what we
have, and it is good. Socialism is the economic system of Communism, which is
what they have and it is bad. The accepted definitions were so muddled as to be
meaningless for any purpose except political indoctrination.
We see the results of this kind of education in the
news every day. Questions concerning the authority of Congress, the role of the
Supreme Court, and the power of the President are being discussed, and
commentators and editors are making their feelings known. Unfortunately, much of
the discussion is simply beyond the scope and understanding of the listener. It
is well past time for a change.
Senator Joe McCarthy has been denounced for his
excesses in routing out communist sympathizers. Times have changed, so we are
told. However, public schools, still seem to avoid discussion of alternate
economic theories beyond indoctrination levels, or even discuss capitalism in
depth without political overtones. The result is that the majority of the
working class does not have sufficient foundational education to even be
concerned about what is happening around them – or to them. To add real-world
clarity to a discussion of capitalism, our children, the next influx of labor,
need a working definition of capital which will help them think more clearly
about what they are told.
Historically we have said that capital is the money
which is used to purchase or create the means of production. This is a good
definition for looking at an abstract process, but it lacks both depth and
clarity when it comes to teaching about the impact of capitalism on society.
When we talk about capital, we should be teaching that it is the money that some
people have in excess of what they need for food, clothing, shelter, healthcare
and a little bit for leisure activities, which is used to purchase the means of
This is money that the majority of the working class
will never have. As a result, by definition workers are not capitalists and the
vast majority will never become capitalists except in the sense of political
attitude. The essence of capitalism is that capitalists, those with capital, buy
the servitude of those without capital at the lowest price possible in order to
use their labor, manual or intellectual, to amass more money. Everyone who
cannot exist for the extent of their lifetime with only what they have in the
bank today is a member of the labor pool. The fact that some of the laborers can
live for an extended period of time without additional funds can hold out for a
higher price, does not remove them from the labor pool. This condition simply
allows them to enjoy a less obvious position of servility. The result is
codified class slavery as was the case when the word was coined. 'Slavonic
captive': the Slavonic peoples were reduced to a servile state by conquest in
the 9th century.
When we think of slavery in the United States, we
imagine a person captured from a foreign country and sold to an individual to do
labor for that individual. Most people would add that the labor is done for
free, but that was never the case. No money changed hands, but if the slave
owner wanted work done, the slaves needed food, clothing and shelter, as well a
some level of health care. After all, how much work can a hungry, sick person
Amendment XIII of the constitution refers to the
elimination of slavery in the United States. Section 1 states: "Neither slavery
nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party
shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any
place subject to their jurisdiction." Section 2 states: "Congress shall have
power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." But the laws have not
eliminated slavery, only bondage. A form of slavery, however benign, remains the
essence of our economic system.
Everyone who lives from paycheck to paycheck is
enslaved to some degree. Selling whatever talent they have to the highest bidder
in order to obtain food, clothing, shelter and health care, they enter into an
undeniable slave/master relationship. That relationship becomes astoundingly
clear when we look closely at our political parties and their platforms.
Historically, the Republican Party’s form of capitalism has been based on
maintaining a starving workforce with an absolute minimum ability to confront
the owners of the means of production for the betterment of wages or working
conditions. Both of these things require either additional capital or reduction
in profit. The Democratic Party has historically insisted on a more moderate
form of capitalism. The Democratic Party’s brand of capitalism is based on the
principle of a content workforce, and as such embraces some socialistic
principals to some degree, which might be considered a more humane application
of capitalist principles.
Neither party will speak about the inherent owner/slave
relationship of the capitalistic economy. What they do speak about are things
which can be done at no cost to the rich. How much does it cost to limit
marriage to a man and a woman? How much does it cost to refuse an abortion to
the victim of rape or incest, or someone who simply can’t provide the basic
necessities of life to the newborn? How much does it cost to provide social
freedoms to people who have been denied such freedoms by bigotry and hatred? The
answer, of course, is that these things cost nothing. As a result, keeping their
real objectives secret, the political parties go to great lengths to use their
cost free principles to divide and conquer the electorate.
During this last run of Republican political dominance,
the economic principle, that of keeping the workforce in need and powerless, has
reached an extreme. It was during the tenure of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
that the conscience of the government reached its apex in favor of the working
class. With FDR’s passing, the wealthy reacted immediately to reverse the swing
of the pendulum. The question is then, how long will it take the working class
to begin to reverse the swing of the pendulum this time?
So what does all this talk of politics have to do with
education? Well, the working class has recognized that something is wrong.
Unfortunately, when they are told that the problem is rampant unfettered
capitalism many react as if the very idea is unpatriotic. This response is not
founded in education, but in indoctrination. If they cannot get past the
political indoctrination to deal with economics, whose fault is it? Well, it is
not their own fault. Neither is it the fault of their parents. How can a parent
be expected to recognize what is missing from an education when what is missing
was never a part of their own?
For the same reason, it’s also not the teacher’s fault.
When it comes to democracy and capitalism, we have all been subjected to
indoctrination since the 1940's. The responsibility for this lack of awareness
of economic principles – and how the use and misuse of these principles can
affect the lives of American citizens – rests directly, and heavily, on the
In order for our form of government to survive, every
high school graduate must have a thorough, not a cursory, understanding of our
government and our economic system. By allowing political and economic ignorance
to exist through high school, the educational system fails in its duty to fully
educate. Students graduating from high school today understand DNA and RNA,
which very few will ever need. How their economic system works, and how their
government – the best ever conceived – is supposed to function, appears to be
beyond them. This is a national disgrace.
Based on all available evidence, the majority of
today’s electorate lacks a solid understanding of the social, political and
economic principles which underlie our society. This, unfortunately, includes
those who become journalists and use their profession to spread their
misunderstanding. Our only hope for the survival of our nation, a nation created
to throw off a tyrannical rule, is that the public school system begins very
soon to educate rather than indoctrinate.
January 13, 2006
Dear Senators, In
regard to Judge Alito . . .
After eighteen hours of
listening to Senators question Judge Alito, very little has changed except that
what was once just hearsay is now first hand evidence. Judge Alito, if given the
opportunity, will vote to decimate Roe v. Wade. He will, if confirmed, support
the Presidents’ power to ignore the laws passed by Congress. As a Justice, Judge
Alito will strengthen the power of law enforcement to intrude on the lives of
ordinary citizens. A Justice Alito can be expected to enrich corporations at the
expense of the rights of workers, and reverse gains made by women and
minorities. He will, if given a share of the final and unquestionable authority
of the United States Supreme Court, diminish the ability of Congress - and the
Supreme Court itself - to oversee the actions of the Presidency.
No, not even once did Judge Alito directly confirm any
of these statements. He also did not, even once, choose to deny them. Instead,
hiding behind some supposed ethical tenet which keeps us from knowing his
position on the law, refused to answer direct questions. But, in his refusal,
his careful choice of words left his innermost beliefs unmistakable. Samuel
Alito, the man, showed himself to be extremely sincere and intellectually
honest. So much so, that even as he dodged issues, he could not bring himself to
even feint toward a belief he doesn’t truly hold. The result was that what he
did not say provided volumes of solid information.
Judge Alito is undoubtedly a warm hearted, gentle and
humble individual who obviously believes he is not following an agenda. The
glowing testimonials delivered by his fellow judges made it clear that, in their
minds, Judge Alito is the epitome of self-restraint in his application of the
law. However, we must remember that they too spend their lives in the
intellectual pursuit of dissecting the words of earlier decisions in order to
apply the ones which strike them as most reasonable.
Therein lies the rub. What Judge Alito honestly
believes to be reasonable is quite different from the vast majority of his
peers, especially when it comes to individual rights, corporate responsibility,
Congressional authority and presidential power.
Those who would support Judge Samuel Alito’s
confirmation as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
primarily on the belief that Roe v. Wade must be overturned would be well
advised to consider carefully the total long term cost of that action.
To those who would say that Judge Alito's digressions
from mainstream thought have been minimal in number and should be disregarded, I
suggest the opposite. Judge Alito's digressions from mainstream thought have
been, and will continue to be, tremendous in impact, and should carry tremendous
weight in the Senate's decision.
Senators, the rest is up to you.
January 3, 2006
Preparing for Nov. 7, 2006 Election: 10 Months to Study
for the Test, and Only One Chance to Pass
This morning each one of us
woke up as one of 300,000,000 citizens of the United States. Two hundred twenty
million of us are old enough to vote, and are supposedly responsible for our own
well being. Five million of us are old enough to fight and possibly die for our
country, but not yet old enough to drink. Some of us pray for the
rest of us, and some of us prey on the rest of us. Far too many of
us just don’t give a damn one way or the other.
We are told that we live in the "Information Age", but
real information is scarce. As we browse the morning paper or surf through
various TV news stations we seem to get a lot of information. Unfortunately,
most of what we’re getting is misinformation, disinformation, cherry picked
information and, all too often, just outright lies. So what’s a person to do?
Well, it seems that a lot of people simply decide not to pay any attention at
all. Certainly the fact that only slightly over half of those eligible to vote
bothered to do so the last time has a lot to do with how we feel about what we
hear from those who are supposed to "know."
But, if people don’t pay attention, and people don’t
vote, then how are we supposed to get our country back? Oh, that’s right -- more
than half of us don’t even know we lost it. For those of you who still don’t
know it yet, consider this. Last year the Congress passed at least two major
laws which took away our recourse to petition the court when we’ve been wronged.
First the gun lobby managed to cut the judicial branch out of the picture when
it comes to the misuse of firearms. Then, the last thing the Senate did before
breaking for Christmas was to approve a measure which took away our rights to
judicial recourse if we have been wronged by the pharmaceutical industry.
However, I fail to see in the Constitution of the United States where the
legislative branch has the power to deny the people access to the courts.
Evidently, they wanted the power -- so they took it.
Doing first, and asking for forgiveness later, seems to
be the way our country works today. By now everyone is aware that our President
used an executive order to allow wiretapping without the oversight of the
judicial branch of our government. Congress did not give him the authority to
issue such an order, so the administrative branch disregarded both the
legislative branch and the judicial branch to do as it pleased. Does anyone
still not agree that the people need to get their country back?
Or maybe a better question is - do enough people care?
Do enough people really care that our elected representatives tell us what we
want to hear, through commercials paid for by their corporate sponsors, and then
do just enough of what they promised so that maybe people won’t notice how well
they kept all of their promises to their sponsors?
For the past five years the Congress has applied a
shadow preamble to our constitution which apparently reads, "Of the
corporations, for the corporations, and by the corporations." During the next
ten months, "We, the People of the United States of America," need to get off of
our collective behinds, separate the sugar from the salt, decide what we want
from our government, and elect the right people for the job.
It is hard not to wonder if it is possible that about
half of voting age citizens simply want someone to rule the country so they can
be left alone? If that’s the case, maybe trying to get them to want their
country back is a waste of time. Why should they want back what they never
wanted in the first place?
In ten short months, those who care will be trying to
sort the wheat from the chaff. However, the skill with which the news is
manipulated and spun by those in power is making the job more like separating
fly specks from pepper. No one else will do the work for us and give us anything
but leftovers. If we want to be governed and not ruled we must educate ourselves
and vote accordingly, and convince as many others as we can to do the same.
Regardless, come next November we will have the
opportunity to choose again. And this time we need to be sure that everyone
eligible to vote can vote, and that all votes are properly tallied. Then we need
to spend the rest of our time making sure that those we elect work for us and
not for some corporate sponsor with a hidden agenda.
Our fate is in our own hands.
December 24, 2005
Christmas Presents from Congress
Did you get Diamonds or Coal?
Have you ever gone to a movie you wish you hadn’t, but
you knew that to have missed it would have been worse? Well, I just finished
watching three days of the U.S. Senate, and what I saw and heard was both
riveting and repulsive. As irritating and angering as it was, I wish that every
American citizen was required to watch and listen as those we have elected speak
for us go about the business of ensuring our life, liberty and pursuit of
happiness. My own view of the proceedings was from a seat in the center of the
middle class gallery. This perspective, of course, has a lot to do with how I
feel about what I experienced.
During these three days in the Senate several pieces of
legislation were considered. There was the Patriot Act Conference Report, the
Deficit Reduction Conference Report, the Defense Appropriations Conference
Report, and the Defense Authorization Conference Report. Because the Senators
insisted on speaking about whichever legislation interested them, regardless of
which one was supposed to be under consideration at the moment, it was easy to
get lost trying to keep straight which item was improperly added to which
conference report. And, just maybe that was the point.
On Monday, Senator Byrd’s speech, “No President is
Above the Law”, was a moment to remember, as was Senator Boxer’s speech on
Tuesday evening on the same subject. They brought up the same welling up of
pride for the American way as movie goers experienced watching Jim Carey’s
speech in The Majestic, or Gregory Peck’s closing argument in To Kill
A Mocking Bird. Then there was Senator Dorgan, who spoke eloquently for the
American worker and Senator Durbin who pointed out the reversals in separation
of church and state in education through a national voucher program for Katrina
Senator Byrd made another speech about following the
rules of the Senate, particularly Rule 28 which states that no item which has
not been previously agreed upon either in the Senate or in the House may be
added to any bill in conference. Senator Kerry also spoke to this issue along
with several others. None, however was more outraged over the behind the scenes
machinations than Senator McCain who, in red faced anger, enumerated the items
his staff had found in the conference report, which was much too long for any
one person to read and comprehend in the time allotted.
In the end, however, the speeches rang somewhat hollow
as the speakers voted and bills were passed, albeit with some of the problem
areas reconciled, still containing items not previously discussed and certainly
not agreed with by the majority of either house. It made me think again about
what I had witnessed over the past three days. What I saw was a mugging by a
gang of thugs with brass knuckles, knives and bacteriological weapons.
The procedural ability to object to the presentation of
a bill or amendment, or even a resolution, was used as brass knuckles to keep
Senators from being heard, and issues from being discussed. Items were inserted
in committee reports against Senate rules and used as knives to the throat in
order to get votes for less damaging, but still seriously injurious legislation.
Using ANWAR as the knife to the throat, to get some Senators to accept the loss
of a little finger, managed to keep other provisions in the “Deficit Reduction
Act” which were never approved by either the House or the Senate.
That’s where the biological weapon was released. It
came in the form of denying Americans the right to use the courts to recover
damages from the pharmaceutical industry. This type of assault is particularly
insidious, because it hides in the civic body without symptoms. No pain, no
discomfort, no problem – until you need to use the court and find the doors
closed and locked.
When the fight was over, the victims were not those
Senators who spoke out against the legislation that was passed. The victims are
the constituents of each and every participant in the fight. No one with an
income above middle class even got bruised. In fact, while cutting the legs out
from under the poorest to show a $40 Billion “deficit reduction”, a $70 Billion
tax cut was enacted for the benefit of millionaires and above.
When the smoke cleared, the Patriot Act Conference
Report was successfully filibustered and the existing Patriot Act was extended
for six months. The Deficit Reduction Conference Report, (more appropriately
called the Sheriff of Nottingham Success Story) which Vice President Cheney
passed with his personal tie breaking vote, was passed with just enough changes
to require it to be reconsidered by the House. The ANWAR provision was stripped
from the Defense Appropriations Conference Report, but as passed still contained
items in conflict with Rule 28. It too returns to the House. The Defense
Authorization Conference Report passed and I did not see or hear about anything
problematic buried in it.
Another piece of legislation was discussed on the floor
of the Senate concerning the Intelligence Committee funding. Although there are
several issues for this committee to be investigating with regard to its mission
of congressional oversight, I did not see that it was passed. Although Senator
Frist many times accused the minority of obstruction, not allowing this
committee to fulfill its mission appears to me to be a shameful display of
The House met briefly today to pass a five week
extension of the Patriot Act which the Senate will have to take up this evening.
The battle continues. I will continue to watch, and I can only hope that many
others watch as well. Our legislature, during the past five years, has bloodied
the middle class with legislation which consistently reduces their discretional
spending by increasing the cost of necessities. Whether those congressional
champions, who are never so much as bruised by the results of the battle, will
ever prevail on behalf of the middle class and the poor is highly doubtful in
today’s political environment. We can only be grateful that they continue
A lot of questions about specifics have been left
unanswered here. Anyone who doesn’t already have the answers will have to look
them up. Good! That’s the best thing that could happen.
I sincerely believe that if everyone was required to
pay attention to what is being done in their name by those they have elected to
serve, the political landscape would change as quickly as being washed away by a
tsunami. However, as long as a majority of Americans consider their daily lives
too important to interrupt in order to be well informed, we will continue to get
exactly what we collectively deserve.
Next November the whole House and a third of the Senate
need our permission to continue looking out for us. Things can be changed if
everyone pays attention to what Congress is doing in our name Who the nation
picks to serve will take us where we want to go -- or not.
Our fate really is in our own hands.
December 11, 2005
rantings of the fundamentalist fringe are stunting our growth as a nation and
hindering our passage to maturity. The incessant repetition of claims that the
Bible is the literal word of God by the radical fringe of Christian leadership
has managed to maintain control over the thoughts and actions of about ten
percent of American citizens. This is a rough, low end estimate based on what
the few available survey results indicate.(1) However, if even as much as ten
percent of Americans are willing to state publically that they believe in a
literal interpretation of the Bible, our country is in real trouble, and it’s
well past time to speak truth to this misled group.
First of all, the Old Testament is simply an
anthology of stories handed down before the advent of writing. Every group of
people, as they became aware enough to ask themselves who they were, wanted to
know where they came from. Unfortunately, no one who was around at the beginning
left any clues to how they came to be, or how the world came to be. The only
thing left to do was surmise, and surmise we did, sometimes in short stories and
sometimes in novels. If you are not already familiar with various stories of
creation, you might find them interesting. I’ve presented some brief overviews
as an addendum.
Today, the vast majority of the American public
views these stories with humor. Yet too many Americans persist in beliefs which
have no more foundation than the oral histories of the Egyptians, Africans,
Aborigines, Shinto or Iroquois. They believe, and teach their children, that the
earth just appeared, out of nothing, at a thought from God, and in six days God
created everything we see. Then, they have the absolute audacity to refer to
those who don’t believe their stories as heathen, and declare that unbelievers
will spend eternity in some fiery underworld.
Why should we care? Because, those that refuse to
accept what they can see in favor of that which they choose to believe, are
having an extremely negative effect on our quest for maturity.
I never dreamed that I would ever be so passionate
about publically pointing out flaws in someone else’s belief. Even as I type, it
feels rude, crude and indecent. But, the passionate believers have no such
compunction when it comes to belittling what I believe. And, no amount of polite
writing or polite distancing on the part of those who are anchored in a tangible
reality has done a thing so far to stop the incessant clamor of the pompous,
self righteous, and hate mongering fanatics of the extreme Christian sects. If
those who want to follow a literal translation of the Bible don’t want to
associate with blacks, gays, or liberated women – ok, do that. If they would
just keep those narrow and hateful personal views within their own community and
out of public schools and government affairs, I, for one, would be content to
let them be. Unfortunately, they will not.
“Have a Merry Christmas,” they insist on chanting to
strangers who may be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. A more socially sensitive
greeting would be, “Happy Holidays,” but let’s not confuse sensitivity-to-others
with evangelism. I might be able to respect their position more if they were
consistent, but consistency is also not part of their makup. Christmas is Holy
they cry-- but only 150 years ago churches said just the opposite. It was,
according to Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches, a heathen, pagan
holiday, not to be honored by the church.(2) I wonder how many children today,
or adults for that matter, know that.
The story of creation is not the only myth that
needs to be questioned. Remember those folks who thought salvation came in a
space ship behind a comet and died to get there. Well, another group is waiting
to be taken to God in the Rapture. Is only one of these groups misguided?
In addition to the myths there is still an even
greater impediment to maturity – outright hypocrisy. At the same time the
fundamentalists claim to have higher standards and beliefs than the rest of us,
they demonstrate exactly the opposite. They tell us that they have been saved by
Christ, yet turn to the old testament for solace when the teachings of their
Savior run contrary to their innermost desires and impulses. As I have said
before, it’s much easier to follow the bigoted prophets of the Old Testament.
Following Christ means walking a hard road. It means putting aside prejudice,
hatred, personal revulsion, and vengeance.
So why do people allow themselves to be led and to
continue to repeat what even they may think is questionable. I think it is
simply the safety of having a community. How could any one person stand up in a
church full of neighbors, friends and family and say, “I think we’re going the
wrong way.” Those who do feel that way simply stop going to church and remain
silent about their reasons out of fear of alienation. In strong fundamentalist
communities religious alienation can be torturous.
Yes, this writing is harsh, but it is also
necessary. There are a lot of people who firmly believe that the
fundamentalist’s teachings run counter to our nations growth toward maturity.
Fundamentalist Christians tell themselves it is their duty to evangelize – they
don’t have to be sensitive to the sensibilities of anyone who does not accept
their position. If the rest of us remain silent, out of some misguided sense of
politeness or propriety, our period of adolescence will be very long indeed.
Along the way though, there is nothing wrong with
having a good time, so I wish that each and every one of you, –
Have a Merry Spending Time,
enjoy a Happy Receiving Day
and revel in a Joyous Commercial Binge Season.
According to the Egyptians, in the beginning there
was only water, which the Egyptians called Nu or Nun. It was out of Nu that
everything began. Eventually there was flooding, and when the floods receded dry
land emerged. On the first dry hilltop, on the first day came the first sunrise.
In Africa different stories were told. In one the
world was created through a powerful being named Bumba, who regurgitated the
sun, moon, stars, and the first nine living creatures. In a Kabyl tale of
creation the world just is, and starts out with just one male and one female.
They live underground, and eventually find each other and mate, having fifty
sons and fifty daughters. The rest is history.
Aboriginal Stories tell us yet another tale. They
explain how the world came into being during the Dreamtime when powerful beings
woke up underground and emerged on the surface.
Shinto stories explain the birth of the earth.
Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto stood talking on the floating bridge of
Heaven. "Is there not a country beneath?" So they poked around with a shaft and
found the ocean below. When they lifted the shaft, brine dripping from the point
of the spear coagulated and became an island. Eventually, the Sun Goddess Was
The Iroquois tell a long and involved story. It
began in the Sky World. In the Sky World, there was no sickness or death, or
greed or hatred. It’s a long story, but the gist is that an unfaithful wife and
her lover were to be banished. A hole was dug next to a tree so deep that it
went through Sky World, and below it was a globe of water. The couple was thrown
in the hole. On the earth one day, Sky Woman simply appeared. Her lover,
however, showed up as a spirit who could fly and throw fire. What follows, in a
very long and detailed story, is the creation of the five races, and the
interaction of men and spirits.
November 30, 2005
Taking Up the Gauntlet Thrown Down by the Radical
We the people of the United States are presently
embroiled in a serious cultural war. A war which is being waged daily in the
news, in the courts, and in school systems across the nation. It’s important to
note that in this war only one side has generals, lieutenants, and foot
soldiers. The other side is an unorganized collection of civilian resistance
fighters, a few unlinked cells and a lot of victims.
The generals of the evangelical army are well known.
They parade in public, soaking up the power and monetary rewards of their
position. This is what a few of them have to say.
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, tells his
followers, "There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the
Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore."
In addition, he says, "Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill
their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become
lesbians."(1)The Reverend Jerry Falwell declares, "I hope I live to see the day
when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The
churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them.
What a happy day that will be!" He also says that, "AIDS is the wrath of a just
God against homosexuals." And, "Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc. are God-ordained
minorities who do indeed deserve minority status."
Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum, wielding the influence of any
male general hypocritically states that, "Feminism is doomed to failure because
it is based on an attempt to repeal and restructure human nature.”(1)
Then there’s Gary Bower, President of the Campaign for Working Families, who
says, "We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There's a lot of
talk in America about pluralism. But the bottom line is, somebody's values will
prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to
These are not the only
generals, but what they say is repeated by the rest. The position and words of
the generals are carried by the lieutenants in their congregations, and finally
by the foot soldiers in their letters to the editor.
The statement by Gary
Bower, “. . . to teach our children what to believe,” is particularly noxious.
This group of fanatics doesn’t have any desire for our children to obtain a
solid foundation for independent thought. Rather what they want is a nation of
superstitious sycophants to adore them and shower them with their tithe.
Can there be any
doubt about why a determined resistance effort has emerged?
One of the fronts in
this cultural war is Darwin’s Origin of
Species, vs. the Greek philosophy of Intelligent Design. One side demands
tangible, repeatable and verifiable evidence, the other demands faith. The
Darwin position started from a position of “I don’t know” and details a search
for understanding. The Greek philosophical position is simply, “I can’t imagine
any other possibility, so it must be God’s hand.” Will we follow the thoughts
that came AD or BC? That is the question.
Considering AD or
BC, why is that politically incorrect? It seems to me that whether a person
believes that Jesus Christ was the human manifestation of God, or that he was a
Devine prophet, or that he was just a very persuasive ordinary man who preached
brotherhood and good will, there can be no doubt that he existed. There can also
be no doubt that his existence had an impact on the world worthy of being chosen
as a point in time from which to measure our growth.
Everything we have
learned about Christ’s life is found in the New Testament, and in various works
of his contemporaries discovered, but not included in the Bible for reasons
which are open to debate. This is important because it is the book of Good News
that is the creed and the binding force of the evangelical army. Or so the
generals say. In truth, most of Christ’s teachings are disregarded in the
evangelical army’s justification of their views. This is why the culture war is
not between Christians and the rest, but between evangelicals and the rest,
which appears to include many, if not most, Christians.
definition, study and work to emulate the example of Christ. The four Gospels of
the New Testament agree on several very important teachings of the Prince of
Peace. We know from those teachings that Christ railed against the pompousness
and wealth of the clergy. We know that He told his followers too only pray alone
– in private, to be our brothers’ keepers, to not be judgmental, to forgive
rather than punish. All of these teachings are ignored by the generals of the
evangelical army in deference to the words of Old Testament prophets who said
things the generals could use to rally their foot soldiers, to rally them by
playing on their prejudices, their fear of different lifestyles, and their
desire to exercise control over others – to make everyone like them. So much for
the belief in free will.
evangelical Christians, a better reference might be evangelical Levitcans, or
evangelical followers of Moses, or any other title taken from the Old Testament
works they value. Christ seems to have no place in the personal value systems of
these so called “Men of God” who go about preaching dissidence and hate.
Contrary to the ravings of Pat Robertson, here in the
United States everyone has the right to practice the religion of their choice in
the privacy of their own home and in the sanctum of their own church, synagogue,
mosque, etc. But, we are also protected from the oppression of religion. A
couple of hundred years ago the founders of our constitution used reference to
God to emphasize the rights
of the people. But! Those same highly regarded statesmen
made sure that the constitution clearly and specifically removed the possibility
of religion ever
being instrumental in the laws of the United States by
forbidding the use of a religious test for any and all offices of government.
Today, near the end of the two thousand and
fifth year AD, we have digressed to the time of the Crusades, with
self-proclaimed champions of God vengefully determined to destroy any and all
who disagree. However, they are overlooking a very important reality. Crusades
have often spawned enemies where none previously existed. No one should be
surprised that the most rapidly growing religious/spiritual/ethics grouping in
the US is not an organized religion; it consists of non-believers (Atheists,
By definition, a “resistance” has never started
a war, but it has often spawned a relentless fervor to triumph over those who
would limit the rights and repress the freedoms of others.
November 27, 2005
Introspection: A Frightening Journey Toward the Light
Recently, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida told
us what he knew, as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
before we invaded Iraq. It was a lot more than most Senators and Representatives
knew. Because of what he knew, he voted against the invasion of Iraq, but,
unfortunately could not discuss his reasons in pubic, or even in private, with
anyone not holding a high enough security clearance. (1)
Also recently, Vice President Cheney, in remarks before the American Enterprise
Institute, said that critics of the Administration were engaging in "revisionism
of the most corrupt and shameless variety" . . . "Any suggestion that prewar
information was distorted, hyped, fabricated by the leader of the nation is
utterly false," . . . (2)
The question is, which
position best supports your pre conceived position? Which person will you quote
the next time you are brave enough to discuss politics with friends? Do
you really want the truth at all? If you had incontrovertible evidence that the
position you held was in error, what would you do?
A serious problem
facing our nation is personal intellectual dishonesty. Knowing the truth is one
thing, accepting a new truth in a blizzard of pride, prejudice and denial is
quite another. Pride keeps us from changing our mind because then we have to
admit to ourselves that we were mistaken – a serious blow to our self esteem.
Prejudice keeps us from accepting the truth from anyone outside our social
community – we might lose the safety of our chosen group. Denial simply keeps us
from thinking – we don’t have to deal with something that isn’t there.
How easy it is,
for politicians and preachers alike, to use our pride, prejudice and denial to
tear apart the very fabric of our democracy, our schools and our communities. Do
you believe that there were serious problems with the counting of votes in the
last two presidential elections? Do you believe that Intelligent Design is a
contrary but legitimate scientific theory? Do you believe that homosexuals are
entitled to the same rights and privileges as the rest of us? How much of your
belief is based on pride, prejudice or denial?
dishonesty has been a problem since man began to think. And, it is not just the
other person’s problem. We are all subject to pride, prejudice and denial to
some degree. How long we allow it to cripple our thought process is a purely
personal decision. Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is that
intellectual dishonesty has a survival instinct of its own. It works tirelessly
against our efforts to eliminate its impact.
There is one
truth which virtually everyone will accept. Because of the overwhelming military
and monetary power of the United States, its voting age citizens, by virtue of
whom they elect to govern, who they choose to guide their moral character, and
what they decide should be taught to their children, will impact not only the
United States, but the entire world. So, the next time you’re having a congenial
but heated debate about politics, religion or the nature of democracy, ask these
questions out loud.
1. Am I defending
my position simply because I can’t accept being wrong?
2. Am I refusing
to accept new facts because of the reaction of my peers?
3. Am I ignoring
any fact which may be damaging to my position?
The answers may
be comforting, or they may not, but the answers to these questions will
certainly tell us about us. There is nothing that could possibly instill more
fear into the hearts of those who would lead us astray than for us to begin to
know our own minds.
Do we have the
courage to find out who we are?
Our fate, and
quite possible the fate of the world, is in our own hands – and our hands are
guided by our thoughts.
November 19, 2005
Friday, November 18, about 3:00 P.M. on the floor on
the U.S. Senate, an elderly white-haired, straight-backed, distinguished looking
gentleman made his way slowly to the podium. He began to speak haltingly about
changes in the weather, the beauty of the countryside, and the colors of the
leaves. Then, like a fog that creeps up and surrounds you before you recognize
its presence, the scene has changed and its not falling leaves but fallen
soldiers in Iraq. Descriptions of people giving thanks during the coming holiday
season turns into Thanksgiving tables with empty chairs. Senator Robert Byrd is
delivering the kind of speech that would have theater audiences teary eyed
because of the undeniable link between his words and our emotions.
As he continues his speech, he quietly inserts that we
need to question government policy – that questioning policy is a patriotic
duty. He had been speaking somewhat softly, and with a bit of hesitation. But
then in a strong, clear steady voice he said, “I
opposed the war in Iraq from the outset. But our troops were ordered to go to
Iraq, and they went. The question is now: When will they come home? The
Administration has so far laid out only a vague policy, saying our troops will
come home when the Iraqi government is ready to take responsibility for its
country. That sort of political doublespeak is small comfort to the mothers and
fathers of our fighting men and women.”
As he continued, Senator Byrd shifted from soft and
halting speech to a clear, strong voice like a musician, using his voice as much
as his words to convey the importance of his message. Here is more of what he
had to say.
“Wednesday evening, the
Vice President of the United States even claimed that criticism of the
Administration’s war in Iraq was "dishonest and reprehensible." The Vice
President’s comments come on the heels of comments from President Bush, who
said, "What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions
and playing politics. That’s exactly what is taking place in America."
“The President and the
Vice President need to reread the Constitution. Asking questions, seeking
honesty and truth, and pressing for accountability is exactly what the Framers
had in mind.”
Then, speaking directly
to the Senate, he said, “We are the men and women who are tasked with seeking
the truth. But instead of working with the Congress, instead of clearing the
air, the White House falls back to the irksome practice of attack, attack,
attack, obscure, obscure, obscure.
“The American people are
tired of these reprehensible tactics. Circling the wagons will not serve this
Administration well. What the people demand are the facts. They want their
elected leaders to level with them. And, when it comes to the war in Iraq, this
Administration seems willing to do anything it can to avoid the truth - - a
truth that I believe will reveal that the Bush Administration manipulated the
facts in order to lead this nation on the road to war.” . . .
“This week, the United
States Senate had the opportunity to establish some very basic benchmarks for
progress in Iraq, benchmarks that would have clearly outlined goals and provided
accountability in meeting them. The proposal, offered by the Senior Senator from
Michigan, Senator Levin, was a modest, flexible approach that would have given
our troops, their families, the American people, and the Iraqi people some basic
guide posts. Unfortunately, the Senate could not see the wisdom of this
approach.. . .
“The Vice President also
lashed out at those who might deceive our troops: “The saddest part is that our
people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods
day in and day out.” Was the Vice President trying to clarify some of his past
statements on Iraq?
“On March 24, 2002, the
Vice President said that Iraq “is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this
“On August 26, 2002, the
Vice President said, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now
has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to
use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”
“On March 16, 2003, the
Vice President said, “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
“Are these the
“pernicious falsehoods” that the Vice President believes our troops have been
His closing statement was, “I
for one believe that it is time to say “well done” to our brave fighting men and
women. May Almighty God bless them -- one and all. Let’s say, job well done, and
start to bring the troops home.”
I have been waiting a long time, and I’m sure others
have also been waiting, to hear a Senator express on the floor of the Senate
what many have been thinking and feeling. However, even though his speech was
moving and replete with facts to support his personal contentions, I’m sorry to
say that I found no reference to Senator Byrd’s remarks in national media or the
web so far this morning.
The complete transcript
of Senator Byrd’s speech can be found on his website at http://byrd.senate.gov/speeches/2005_november/start_to_come_home.html
. As clear as those written words are, they cannot come close to the impact of
the Senator’s presentation. For those who may not be aware, Senator Byrd of West
Virginia is the most senior U.S. Senator. He entered state politics in 1946,
served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and has been in the U.S.
Senate since 1958.
Since the day the Supreme Clerics ordained George W.
Bush the unelected president, he has taken on the role of the anointed speaker
for Born Again Christians. Using the office of the president to advance his
particular religion, Bush has taken on the role of Ayatollah, making
proclamations based on the word of his god and issuing fatwa-like
proclamations. I think this is a good thing.
Six years ago I wouldn’t have written this sort of
article for public view. Long ago I came to the conclusion that religion is just
superstition dressed in fancy clothes. But, I wouldn’t have written it because I
felt that to attack any religion was to display a gross insensitivity to the
most personal of beliefs. I still believe that it’s the inherent right of an
individual to believe whatever he or she may decide is right for them. But, I do
not believe that they have a right to decide for me. I have not changed. Times
For the past five years my sensibilities have been
incessantly attacked. It has been some time since we read about military
colleges pressing evangelical Christian observance on military students in order
to succeed. Most people seemed to think that this was wrong, so the evangelical
proponents waited until last week to sneak in an amendment to help ensure their
efforts. Last week the Senate passed a measure to allow for the beginning of
activities at military colleges with a moment of silence for prayer. A small
thing, sure, but I expect it will be used differently than has been stated.
In speaking for the amendment, Senator James Inhofe,
R-OK, related how our founding fathers prayed together for Gods help to win the
war for independence. From this he drew the conclusion that Christianity was
somehow inherent in our government. Our founding fathers did recognize that for
many, including themselves, faith is a part of their existence, but it was not
to be confused with governance. It’s too bad that Senators aren’t required to
read that copy of the constitution they carry in their pocket. This spectacle on
the floor of the Senate does much to lessen my regard for those presently in
office, and once again pushes religion into my face whether I want it there or
Another Ayatollah, Pat Robertson, has said that their
God would somehow punish those in Dover, PA who voted the proponents of the
“Intelligent Design” myth out of office. The Kansas school board has decided
that intelligent design is to be taught in science classes. Their reasoning is
that man is so complex he could not have evolved on his own. Therefore, because
their imaginations are so limited by their religious training that they cannot
conceive of anything except creation by a god, everyone must be taught to quit
I heard the other day that the Kansas school board has
proposed a new test for science students. They’re to be put into a burlap sack
and thrown into a river. If they float, it is assumed that God wanted them to
pass. Facetious? Of course. But how far from reality is it – when the myth of
creationism is to be taught in a science class. In a philosophy class or a class
on comparative religion maybe, but science?
Much of this I have said before, but every time someone
pushes their religion in my face I get angry all over again. I am outraged that
zealously religious people tell others to have children even if they can’t feed
or clothe them, or preach hate for others because of their sexual preference.
These same folks tell us to go to war to protect their faith. To kill. And what
is the basis for their actions? A belief in a system of superstition created by
man to honor a god. The fact that so many people have so many ideas about the
nature of a god, and about what any particular god’s will really is, should tell
us something about the nature of what we call religion. How is it that
Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have different ideas about the
creation of the world, different ideas about what rituals are sacred, and major
differences about what happens to us when we die. The reason is quite simple.
When a belief system is built on myth, the story teller gets to say what is and
isn’t so. The result is that religion reduces mankind to the level of a pet kept
by a sometimes loving and sometimes hateful master.
I said earlier that the actions of our president in
these matters are a good thing. It is. Finally people are getting upset. People
are talking openly about the function and place of religion in our society.
Several editorials have been written about the fiasco in Kansas – even here in
Pat Robertson country of Virginia Beach. Every day, it seems to me, more people
are joining in the fight to keep our country from devolving into a primitive
society ready to turn our decision making over to some invisible creation of the
Earlier I said that I have not changed. That is not
exactly true. My thoughts are the same, but in the past when I was approached by
a Jehovah’s Witness trying to sell their faith I would nod politely until they
went away. Now I interrupt them to say firmly that I’m not interested and please
move on. I do not accept the word of those who say that I must live by blind
faith values which divide people, and deny the possibility of the formation of a
civilized society based on humane coexistence.
Humanity does not need a god to tell us that to live in
peace we should not kill each other. It is unnecessary for a god to tell us to
not steal, or lie or bust up someone else’s marriage in order to get along with
our neighbors. If we could simply not do these things and at the same time
follow the advice of two thousand years ago, “do unto others as you would have
them do unto you,” we would be living in a better world today.
Toward that end my friend Ed Burge and I have founded
Mutualist Alliance, a place on the web for people who want to engage in a
discussion about what we can do to promote a society based on humane
coexistence. The hope is that by working within a democracy, of by and for the
people, we can overcome the despotic influence of religion of by and for a god.
Faith and democracy can live well together, but religion and democracy cannot.
If you choose to visit the site, the URL is
The site was not created to make money, there is no advertisement and you will
not be asked to contribute anything but your sincere participation. Like the
idea, the site is in its infancy. Now would be a good time to pick a topic for
discussion and possibly create the first post.
Our fate is in our own hands.
November 7, 2005
From Roosevelt to Rove -
I grew up during the time that our elected leaders
were promising things like, “Two cars in every garage and a chicken in every
pot.” Our high school Civics lessons included grand visions of the future for
the vast middle class. We were being prepared for a life of an honest day’s
pay for an honest day’s work. Future wages of the middle class were expected
to cover all the necessities of life – and then some. Leisure time and a few
frills were expected as a reasonable reward for labor. Things didn’t work out
that way for nearly as many of us as was promised. One of our presidents saw
the broken promise coming, and tried to alert us to the danger.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his last State of
the Union address more than sixty-one years ago said,
“We have come to a clear realization of
the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and
independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out
of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become
accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights
under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for
all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job
in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide
adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and
sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent
The right of every businessman, large and
small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and
domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent
The right to adequate medical care and the
opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the
economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this
war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these
rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends
in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into
practice for our citizens.”
Since the time of his presidency, there has been an
open, unabashed effort to derail his vision of American society. The New York
Times reports today that, “A $54 billion proposal headed for a floor vote this
week amounts to budget cuts for the poor and environmental licentiousness. ”Who
would lead such an effort? And, why? The only group that has a reason to oppose
the implementation of these rights is the group with most to lose, the richest
Americans. These are the people who own the means of production.
President Bush called these rich Americans the “Have
More’s” as he was asking for their money to help him win the election in 2000.
Those who comprise the unspoken of American ‘Aristocracy’ happily opened their
wallets, and you can be sure they expected them to be filled. But all of this is
nothing new. The purchasing of political favors by the rich has been going on
since the first coin ever changed hands. The assault on President Roosevelt’s
second Bill of Rights began as soon as he died.
It was apparent to the “Have More’s” of that time that
the United States was headed in a direction which would put a drain on profits.
In this new country, with its constitution written purposefully to root out all
of the ills of other governments, President Roosevelt was leading the “lower
class” toward a richer existence. What is it about the second Bill of Rights
that so bothered this ‘aristocracy’?
1) Money is not self propagating. No matter how long it
sits, money never duplicates itself. Until such time as all manufacturing and
agriculture can be mechanized, no amount of money will ever increase without the
addition of manual or intellectual labor. By simple deductive reasoning, this is
true even for the insurance and financial industries.
2) People who don’t have to worry about the basic
necessities of life have the time and the incentive to educate themselves.
3) Educated people understand that money is not self
propagating, and will demand a fair price for their labor.
4) Subsequent worker demands for wages and benefits
would lead to diminishing the wealth of the “aristocracy.”
Simplistic? Maybe -- but true none-the-less.
Since 1945, through the careful doling out of money and
favors, this ‘aristocracy’ appears to have subjugated the leadership of the
Republican Party, and spent the last sixty years working to ensure that the
second Bill of Rights never sees the light of day. When President Regan refused
to bargain in good faith with air traffic controllers, essentially making them
slaves of the federal government, a major blow was struck in the fight against
unionization. Since that time, the National Labor Relations Board has not been
favorable to union growth.
There can be no question that every penny available in
the U.S. today was harvested from the physical labor or intellect of those who
work for wages. All the means of production in the world are simply inert
objects without labor. It is only the workers who can make capital gains a
reality. It seems rather greedy, selfish, and arrogant for the wealthy owners of
production to expect labor to work for subsistence wages while they flaunt their
However, government actions over the past five years
have demonstrated an all-out effort to create a rich-poor class structure.
Everything that the Republican triumvirate of Senate, House, and Presidency has
done with regard to trade, labor practices, and their own spending spree has
generously spread the fruits of labor on the table of the rich while setting up
those who do the work to pay the tab. But credit must be given where credit is
All of this has been accomplished with the consummate
skill of a magician. Being fooled by a Harry Houdini or David Copperfield is a
lot of fun. Being fooled by a con artist prompts a much different response.
Either those taken in are angry enough to do significant bodily harm, or too
embarrassed to admit they were taken. But when the con goes really well the mark
never realizes it, and passes his loss off to some other cause.
How well the (neo)con artist gets the job done is
entirely dependent on making up a believable lie and providing sufficient
distraction so that the lie never gets questioned. The team pulling off the
present (neo)con are very good. When the president signs legislation that
appears to favor the people he does it with great fan fare. When he’s handing
out the gifts to corporations and wealthy individuals, he often does it at
40,000 feet in the shadows of Air Force One. Then, about the time someone might
be paying attention, the triumvirate begins talking loudly about abortion,
changing the constitution to revise the definition of marriage, or about
teaching “intelligent design,” aka “creationism.” Everyone gets riled up and
that’s when they put yet another hand in the pockets of the “lower class.”
That budget which the congress is working on today was
predicted in 2001. An analysis of the final tax-cut package in 2001released by
Citizens for Tax Justice states that: “The typical tax cut for the median income
taxpayer will be $600 a year. For the 78 million taxpayers in the lowest 60
percent of the income scale, the tax cut will average $347 a year. In contrast,
at the top of the income scale the average tax cut will be $53,000 annually–“
Robert S. McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice reports that. "As a
result, over the upcoming years, average taxpayers will pay dearly for this tax
cut plan in reduced public services, a return to budget deficits or, most
likely, both." One of the more stark comparisons is that the bottom 1% of
individuals share in 0.9% of the overall tax breaks, and the top 1% – an equal
number of individuals– share 37.6%. The entire analysis can be viewed online at
This raid on the national treasury in the first months
of 2001 should have told us something. To cover up what was really happening,
President Bush told us he was giving us a rebate. People on the streets were so
happy to receive a few crumbs that they didn’t even see that cake and caviar was
being served in the penthouses. Since then, additional tax legislation has
continued to enrich the already wealthy owners of the means of production, while
significantly lowering disposable income for the vast majority of working
How long will we let it go on? How long will it be
before those who have been led into poverty with a dangling carrot of favor for
their religious leanings wake up to what has been taken from them. How long will
it be before those who are so consumed with passionate feelings against welfare,
national healthcare, and any other so called “socialist” idea, wake up to what
has been taken from them? How long will it be before small business owners
realize that they are not considered part of the ‘aristocracy’, and wake up to
what has been taken from them? The list goes on. There’s a lot of waking up to
Finally, there is the question of pride. Even if
everyone wakes up to what is happening, how many will really accept the idea
that they were taken in by temporary heros who took advantage of their own greed
for money or power? Hopefully both the waking up, and the humility that comes
with acceptance, occurs before we are forced to deal with the truth in FDR’s
““Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are
hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
History has clearly demonstrated that when a greedy,
miserly and arrogant aristocracy gains unchallenged dictatorial power, it rarely
falls by any means other than by succumbing to an armed insurgency.
The foreseeable economic future of our children and
grandchildren is much less than it was for us. Something must be done soon. The
framers of our constitution provided us with a sane alternative to insurrection,
but it will only work if we use it. Hopefully we will not waste the opportunity.
We must avoid the future which is being written for our
heirs. A future which is now much less promising than the one we had for
ourselves. Those who work for wages must work together to support and elect a
President and those Senators and Congresspersons who will see to it that we do
not revert to a Mediaeval society.
Our fate, and the fate of our children, is in our
November 1, 2005
Left, Right, Lock Step, Cadence Count
One, Two, Three, Four, One Two – THREE FOUR!
The militant fringes - those who would have
government, of them, by them and for them - are marching across the country. As
they do, they leave behind them the ravages of a social war. Disillusionment,
despair, disgust and distrust are heard in the voices of those who write letters
to the editor, call in to talk shows, and converse openly in restaurants and
bars. It isn’t a loud voice, you have to listen closely sometimes, because the
volume - not the logic - of the rhetoric from the fringe seems to have rendered
the vast majority in the middle just really stupefied. It seems that most folks
in the middle have drawn themselves up into a protective shell of concentration
on daily affairs.
This shell helps them avoid even thinking about the
issue of church-state, and how it may affect their lives. Something has happened
which provides an opportunity to clarify much of the national debate over the
separation of church and state. The United Methodist Church Judicial Council
defrocked Irene Elizabeth Stroud, an openly lesbian minister, and reinstated
Rev. Edward Johnson, pastor of South Hill United Methodist Church who had
refused to allow a gay man to become a member of his congregation, and was
suspended for this action by fellow ministers in Virginia. The United Methodist
Church Judicial Council has taken a position to protect itself against what they
perceive is an assault on their moral guidance.
What we will see in letters to the editor which will
be prompted by this action are fairly easy to predict. The far right will be
feeling verified in their position against gays, and calling or national laws
reflect their views. The far left will be feeling vilified and being made
less-than-equal in the eyes of the church, and will demand that the state step
in to regulate against discrimination. They are both wrong, and for the same
reason. Both ends of the political spectrum see the government as a means to
impose their will, the will of a tail-of-the-curve minority, over the will of
It doesn’t take a social scientist or someone with
the wisdom of Solomon to see that this is true. If they did stop to consider the
problem, I think those in the middle would agree on two very important points.
One - the government is
elected by all the people for all
of the reason proclaimed in the Preamble to the Constitution. Everyone knows
what these reasons are, or should, but here they are again, anyway: establish
justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote
the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our
people join a church, temple,
synagogue or mosque to worship their chosen personal deity and find moral
guidance in a world filled with incomprehensible events.
It is clear in the wording of the constitution that
the government, of, by and for the people, is charged with ensuring that no one
is either forced to participate in a religion, and to ensure that no person is
prevented from participating in the religion of their choice. Based on my
interaction with society over the past sixty-five years, I can say with some
certainty that the vast majority of people understand and agree with these
principles. They expect the government to protect them from civil injustice and
the church to guide them in personal moral decisions.
So why doesn’t the issue of separation of church and
state simply dissolve into the night like a bad dream? Because those in the
middle have no voice, no champion, no leader, and therefore little hope. Where
is the prominent public figure who will say, “We have a government and a church,
They each have a purpose, and a roll to play in our daily lives. Keep them apart
and let us get on with living together as a nation.”
Even if this person existed, the chance that their
opinion would be the center of a nationally televised news show or radio
broadcast is all but nonexistent. Until we move away from two-party politics,
the militant fringe will always be in the spotlight. Controversy makes news.
Good sense does not. It’s a fact of life. A change can be made, but it requires
that people who have a desire for a peaceful and humane coexistence band
together in political unity. We need to get together, not in a militant
lockstep, but a peaceful walk in the same direction.
Both political parties prey on the fringe for votes
simply because it’s easy. Those on the fringe want to be heard. Those in the
middle want to be left alone. But often, to be left alone, we have to display a
countenance that says “stay out” to those who would impose themselves on us. In
this case, the ballot box is the only thing the middle has to stand on. If we
support radical causes simply because of our professed identification with the
political party of one or the other fringe army we will lose what little control
we have left over our own affairs.
Our fate is in our hands.
October 27, 2005
Manipulating public opinion, or:
How to be a successful national news
Yesterday on Public Radio I heard the statement,
‘Senator Kerry, who supported going to Iraq, now has a plan to begin pulling
troops out’, or verbiage very close to that, I can’t remember exactly. I was
driving, and didn’t stop to write it down verbatim. What was said did not get my
attention as much as what was not said. I keep waiting for the first time a
reporter with a national audience says instead, “Senator Kerry, who was duped
into voting for the Iraq resolution along with most of the rest of the Congress,
is calling for a planned withdrawal from that country.” Now that would be
Unfortunately, the media has gone even further than
using verbal nuance, inflammatory adjectives and a refusal to tell the “whole”
truth in an effort to manipulate public opinion. When Joe Wilson’s wife’s career
was ended with a single news article, some thought it was ok because Wilson had
contradicted the President. I know it makes some people feel really good to be
able to utter things like “Payback’s a#$%&@, isn’t it?” But, I don’t know that
those are really good people. I, for one, don’t want to hear anything else they
might have to say.
In a blatant and unapologetic fashion some folks who
call themselves journalists have taken up the cause of minimizing the actions of
Scooter Libby and Carl Rove. The latest phrase that has caught my attention is
the “criminalization of politics.” I guess it means that lying is a natural part
of public service and is to be accepted as such without any higher expectation.
In today’s news casts I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear someone say, “What’s
a little chatting among friends?” to describe Scooter and Carl’s collusion to
defame Joe Wilson, and to punish him by taking it out on his wife. And when they
lie about it I expect to hear, “So what? So do all the rest of the kids on the
Aha! Therein lies the truth of the matter! What I
hear today from far too many journalists makes me believe that growing old is
important to getting a job, but growing up is not. Listening to the “Yeah!” –
“Oh Yeah?” exchanges between partisan journalists who remain in the spotlight
day after day says, to me, that growing up might actually be a detriment to a
career. It certainly gives me pause.
I used to be a staunch believer in the freedom of
the press, because I also believed that the press was on the side of truth
regardless of political position. Was I fooled, or what? The deluge of garbage
news totally unfit for public consumption continues to flood the streets, and
seemingly, not one national news organization will take on the task of draining
the swamp. At this point in time I would be happy to support a law requiring
that any journalist who knowingly misleads the public by ignoring the facts, or
is simply too lazy to go out and get the facts, be tarred and feathered in the
town square and taken to jail on a rail. Enough, already!
To all nationally syndicated news media I make this
pledge. I promise to be a faithful listener, reader or viewer of the first
national news entity to make truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
their binding motto, and require that it be the personal creed of each and every
reporter on their staff. I bet I’d have a lot of company. Until then, the
internet will have to do. Grab your keyboards friends, and be thankful that the
October 15, 2005
Who's Fault is it Anyway?
What’s the big deal with paying taxes? After all, it is our government. And the
things we want have to be paid for somehow. Whether it’s garbage collection at
the local level, or defense of the nation, there is a cost. And, what’s so hard
about budgeting within our means. The 90% of us who have to work for someone
else to get enough money to make ends meet certainly know how to get it done.
Well, most of us anyway. So why can’t our Congress get it done?
The answer should be obvious. Most of our Congresspersons and Senators are not
in the bottom 90%, and they have never had to learn to budget like the rest of
us. When someone always has money remaining at the end of the month, no matter
what they’ve bought or given away, a budget just isn’t necessary. What we have
is a Congress that spends our money the same way they spend their own.
What they do is called “Pork Barrel Spending.” What we’ve been doing is
“Slopping the Hogs with Taxpayers Dollars.” The result is that we’re broke. We
owe more than we can pay to people who may someday use our debt as leverage
against us. But whose fault is it really? Come on – don’t be shy, you know the
answer to that one.
That’s right. The fault lies with that person in the mirror. The question is,
how long will we go on being blinded by self interest? How long will we go on
voting for those who have contributed to reducing our treasury to the verge of
bankruptcy? Those folks spending our money were put in place by us. They got
their jobs with our votes, driven by our interests. What were those interests
anyway? Does anyone remember? It certainly appears that we have all been so
wrapped up in getting everyone else to do things our way on specific issues that
the leadership quality of fiscal responsibility just didn’t matter. What was it
that was so important?
Let’s see now – the overriding issues have been gun control, abortions, welfare,
gay rights, affirmative action, – the list is endless. We elected those who
supported our pet causes – that is the right thing to do. But there must come a
day when, while we are asking candidates about our pet concerns, we are also
telling them that if they want our vote they must pledge to be fiscally
responsible. Where are the candidates who will speak for these issues AND
promise fiscal responsibility? If we start looking for them, they will show up
almost out of nowhere. It’s called politics. But it will only work if we let it
be known that we won’t have it any other way. No one is going to do it for us.
It is our responsibility.
We have to insist that the people we vote for pledge to maintain a pay-as-you-go
budget, and never spend the earnings of our grandchildren. What is even more
important is that those we elect must pledge to shift the major burden of taxes
away from the wage earners and place it on the broad shoulders of those who
harvest their money off the backs of the working class.
Let today be the day we begin to accept our responsibility for our future. Money
doesn’t grow on trees. At least it doesn’t for the vast majority of Americans.
Our fate is in our hands.
October 12, 2005
The Radical Right and the Radical Left
Tornadoes Mowing Down the Middle Ground
The U. S. Constitution is undoubtedly the finest social
contract ever written. Hopefully it will withstand the battery of tests it will
receive from both fringe whirlwinds. In the meantime the voices of reflection
and compromise are being drowned out by the high-pitched noise of the gale.
The loudest shouts are heard coming from those fixated
on the extremes of pro-life and pro-choice. One side would outlaw all abortions
regardless of circumstances, and refuse a suffering, terminally ill person the
right to die at the time of their own choosing. The other side would have
abortion and assisted suicide on demand. Their positions are indelibly carved in
the rocks picked up by the storm of controversy and hurled against those who
would dare to search for compromise.
Part of the reason for this polarized debate appears to
be a common refusal to link the issue of quality of life to the issue of the
existence of life. The same group that has zero tolerance for abortion also has
zero tolerance for national health care and a national program to take care of
those who are out of work. On the other side, those with total acceptance of
abortion and assisted suicide on demand argue for tax paid national health care
and welfare without a requirement for repayment through, for example, community
service. Surely there is some room for compromise.
Suppose we started with a premise such as this. We
accept a ban on abortion, with the single exception of the health of the mother,
and, as a nation, we accept the responsibility that goes with bringing a child
into the world. We accept that those who can no longer care
for themselves must continue to live against their will,
and the nation accepts the responsibility of caring for those in that condition.
If the quality of life is given as much attention as the simple state of being
able to breathe, maybe the tornadoes will begin to wind down. If we begin with
any premise that links both parts of the problem, then possibly a discussion of
particulars could result in a real compromise that enough people would endorse
so as to provide a cultural norm that works.
There are, of course, other sources adding impetus to
the destructive winds. Positions on the issues of capital punishment, gay
marriage, corporate responsibility, affirmative action and workers rights are
extremely contentious, and so the tornadoes continue to whirl. There may be a
chance to reduce their fury before the middle ground becomes uninhabitable, but
it will require a very strong conviction that compromise is the absolute best
answer. In our democratic republic the only chance we have is for those who
still live in the middle ground to demand that political candidates clearly
express their commitment to compromise before we contribute to their campaigns
or promise our vote.
We are in desperate need of leaders who will discuss
issues with an unwavering intent to do the most good for the most people. We are
in desperate need of leaders who will not tolerate our constitution being used,
abused, twisted and torn by the fringes of society, who trying desperately to
make it conform to their own narrow interpretations. Our next chance is November
Our fate is in our
October 6, 2005
A belief in a god, whether it
was Apollo, Ra, the God of Abraham, or simply the Great Spirit, has been part of
humanity for all of recorded history. Every culture has developed a religion of
some sort based on the existence of a supernatural power. In each case, the
premise of the existence of the god of the time was not to be challenged. Of
course it was always challenged by a few ‘unenlightened’ people who were almost
certainly ridiculed, often became objects of hatred and sometimes even human
sacrifices to the god of the time.
Nothing is different today.
To speak openly of a belief that mankind must prevail on its own, without the
help of some deity, that it must solve its own problems and deal with its own
mistakes, will certainly be met by a chorus of ridicule. That said, and with
eyes wide open, I will say:
Before I reached the age of
seven I was told God lived in heaven.
Someone whom I could not see
was always watching over me.
He could see me in the dark,
He watched while I played at the park.
And, if I was good, I’d get
to heaven. I learned all this, then I was seven.
But, there was more I’d
learned by then, I knew about the bogeymen.
And other things that gave me
pause, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
Then as I grew and went to
school my friends and I learned what was true.
Bogeymen, Santa and the Bunny
were simply lies, but they were funny.
When we discovered we’d been
had, we laughed, and no one thought it bad.
But no one ever dared suggest
– That God was just another jest.
We knew we should not call it
funny – folks go to church and pray for money.
Prayers by farmers for the
rain could not be said to be in vain.
And surly our great heads of
state, who tell us that god guides their fate
cannot be said to be unwise.
So we don’t speak, just sympathize.
But all the while we’re being
civil, constantly we’re handed drivel.
How gods’ word is better than
the guidance of an honest man.
There may really be a Heaven
– as I learned ‘fore I was seven.
But I don’t know just what
it’s worth if we must live this Hell on earth.
All around us today, the
religious of all faiths try to tell us what to do about everything, based on
words written two thousand years ago. As a well-known Colonel Potter used to
say, “That’s just plain Horse Hockey.” Those who are enamored of the words of
the past and who pray for better times should do it in the privacy of their own
home, as they were told to do by Christ as related by Matthew, Chapter 6, verse
5 & 6.
If we continue to elect
leaders who continually tell us to look to heaven while they pick our pockets we
are certainly lost. If the common man is to survive the two hundred year
onslaught of rampant capitalist greed, we will need leaders who believe in
themselves, leaders who believe in the need for global peace, leaders who
believe in the need to insure the basic needs of existence for all people.
Men and women whose feet are
firmly planted on the ground, whose desire to improve the human existence is
sincere, and require any Divine guidance to be substantiated by the facts at
hand are out there waiting to be chosen by an informed electorate. Our fate is
in our own hands.
September 25, 2005
between 100,000 and 300,000 people showed up in Washington, D.C. yesterday, to
protest the war in Iraq. There were people who traveled from as far as Florida,
Texas, Wisconsin, and Vermont. These folks made the trip, many at considerable
expense. These demonstrators came: not to be heard shouting, but to be counted
marching; not to be seen as individuals, but to be seen as one of many -- a
dramatic example of the growing anti-war sentiment in the country. Being there
was important enough to interrupt their lives, spend their money, and endure the
travel just to be counted.
Many, if not most, are still there
today. They don’t know yet that the Fourth Estate has passed judgment and found
their efforts unworthy of being seen, or maybe just too uncomfortable to deal
with. They don’t know yet that their concerted personal effort was overshadowed
by such earth shattering events such as the rescue of a dog from a hurricane.
They don’t know that although their freedom of speech was unimpaired, their
right to be heard has been crushed by the corporate owned media. With the
exception of CSPAN, there was no TV coverage of the event. But, that isn’t all.
A review of the front pages of one
hundred ninety-five U.S. newspapers, this morning shows that sixteen of them, a
whopping 8.2%, thought that a protest against the Iraq war by about 200,000
Americans from across the nation was worth noting on the front page. Of those
sixteen, nine ran articles written by their own staff and the rest picked up AP
or other news outlet accounts. The sixteen newspapers represented only nine of
the fifty states.
Personally, since last year’s
election, I have been privately protesting most of the corporate media. I don’t
watch FOX, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC or CBS except on very rare occasions. My protest
continues today with the addition of one of the shows which had been an
exception to my rule. Last night, when we got home after spending an hour on the
Metro followed by a four-hour drive, my wife turned on the TV to find out what
they had to say about the day. My remaining used-to-be-favorite commentator was
saying that about a hundred thousand protested in DC and that all hundred
thousand had called in to ask why they hadn’t been covered. Then he said,
they’ll just have to understand that Rita was the news of the day and as such it
was just too bad that the events coincided. What’s really too bad is that at
that moment I lost my last ounce of trust, faith, desire to believe, call it
what you will, in any corporate or state run media. Actually, after all of this,
there is no way to tell if the government controls the press or if it’s the
other way around, but in any case the people just don’t seem to matter anymore.
Monday should be a very
interesting day. Somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 people will find out
Monday morning that they get to talk, that’s their freedom of speech, but they
don’t necessarily get to be heard, that’s decided and controlled by the media.
They will wake to find that have been totally dissed by the people they needed
most. They will wake to find that their efforts have been dismissed,
with by a media which treated them with disdain.
Soon, I expect that the media may find the protests much closer to home.
September 17, 2005
Do you remember Willie Nelson's Riding on The
City of New Orleans? Well, this is the way I think it Scatter from the City of New
Busted levees, flooded
streets and homes
People left to die alone in
Bodies rising as the water
Some they say are looters,
some just scrounging food
don’t suppose that color is
Cops spent more time
protecting, those things bought with gold,
than helping people left out
in the cold.
Good morning America, how are
Are you waking up to see what
you have done.
It was once a place, the City
of New Orleans,
now just a place to leave
behind and run.
So, scatter from the City of
Where armed guards walk with
And hope you find someplace
that’s more inviting
at least for now while you
keep making news.
Just don’t try to cross the
bridge in search of food and rest,
the deputies will shoot you
if you do.
‘Cause your not welcome
everywhere no matter what you’ve heard,
The folks in Gretna don’t
want folks like you.
Good morning America, how are
Aren’t you proud to see
what you have done?
You gave your gold to those
who didn’t need it.
Do you feel good while you
watch the rising sun?
So, scatter from the City of
But be careful on the way to
‘Cause in this land that’s
born of ‘We the People’,
Some folks can’t seem to get
it through their head.
This land of mighty vistas,
with it’s stores of natures wealth
could feed and clothe each
one of us with pride.
But the rich now own the
country, corporations hoard the gold,
and poverty is rising like
Good night America, how are
Can you see the people left
behind by greed?
Well, this really is the land
of ‘We the People.”
And, there’s lots' of folks
who want to make it right.
This really is the land of
‘We the People.”
And, there’s lots' of folks
still want to make it right.
The Weasel in the
He’s done it again! He
told us he was worried about us and our well being, and then last year cut $71
million from the Army Corps of Engineers budget to protect New Orleans from high
impact hurricanes. Then, when the levee’s broke he said how sorry he was, and
told us it will be years before things are back to normal, but we would be
stronger for it, and smiled. No kiddin’, he smiled.
First he lied us into a
war, and still talks about those who voted to give him the power ‘if necessary’
as if they in fact voted to go to war.
He said he was for
unity, and at the first opportunity he said, “Your either with us or against
us.” And then had to twist a lot of arms to build a dictated ‘consensus’.
He said the war was
about destroying weapons of mass destruction, there were none.
He said the war was
about defeating terrorists on their own turf not ours, but they’re not defeated,
He said the war was
about taking democracy to the arab world, but the basis of their constitution is
theocratic not democratic.
He said a lot of things
to match the latest reality that couldn’t be hidden from the public, and now he
says our military has to stay in Iraq to protect the oil from the terrorists.
What he doesn’t say is for who?
He gave us each a few
hundred ‘feel good’ dollars while he gave millions to the already millionaires.
Got any of the money left? I sure don’t. But, if I did, it would have gone for
gas this week anyway.
He says his ideals are
Christian, but he has fired or tried to destroy each and every opposing voice in
government. Unfortunately with way too much success.
He says he believes in
Christian values, but Christ was the Prince of Peace, and he still talks of a
long, drawn out war.
He says he believes in
the Constitution of the United States and freedom for all. Then he got a lot of
middle class white guys to go along with his ‘gay’s are for bashin’, and women
are for makin’ babies’ proposals for changing both the constitution and standing
Supreme Court decisions.
He says he believes in
democracy, but then advocates theocratic principles for education.
anybody angry yet? I don’t mean miffed, or ticked, or upset, or irritated, I
mean ANGRY! I’m talkin’ about, foot stompin’, nail spittin’, hold me back I’m
gonna’ hit somebody, pissed off. You are? Good! It’s about damned time. So, what
are you going to do about it?
Clear September 24th
from your calendar and pack your bags for Washington D.C. Join the rest of us
who have already tied a knot in the end of our ropes to keep hanging on. You
don’t have to stand up and shout, you don’t have to wear slogan tee shirts, you
don’t even have to listen to those you might not totally agree with. Just being
there will show the country just how many people are fed up with the current
state of affairs. It will also let you sleep better knowing you didn’t just sit
on your hands while our emperor fiddles away everything we’ve managed to
accomplish in the last two hundred years.
August 30, 2005
Going. . .
.Going. . . . .
There are a lot of issues that have to
be dealt with today. New Supreme Court Justices, Intelligent Design in schools,
ending the war in Iraq, and preventing war elsewhere. All serious issues, to be
sure, but there is a single overriding issue that is screaming for attention.
The overriding issue is that without a well functioning Democratic Republic, all
other issues will be beyond our influence or control.