Saturday, February 19, 2005

Momentum

How do you know the Dems are one the right path in electing Howard Dean? The Reperves start saying how stupid it is. Two items in Saturday's Chronicle praise the move as good for the GOP. In a letter to the editor Tina Benkiser, chairman, Republican Party of Texas, hails Dean as a gift to her party, while Robert Novak derides Dean as a political has-been and last choice for party leadership. The GOP loved to say how scared they were of Kerry and what a formidable opponent he was for the president, but as chairman Dean is some kind of joke? Me thinks the ladies doth protest too much. Roll on for a Democratic Party lead by a man who "believes that the fiercer the rhetoric the better", he'll be a perfect thorn in Karl Roves ass!

And on a more personal note: Bubba's daughter ROCKS!

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Friday, February 18, 2005

A Long and Winding Road

I warn you this is likely to be:
A. Long
B. Rambling
C. Ambitious
but I promise to
D. Try and make sense in the end!

Nothing like Brother Rove to get the blood boiling. In the Chronicle this morning we are enlightened by the news that Bush and his fellow conservatives are committed to "fostering morality and values, including protecting the culture of life for every human person." This from the people who gave us the torture memo and Abu Graib. How moral is that?

And talk about values, check out Krugman today. What kind of values does it show to take away from those most in need while enriching the already wealthy. In short, Krugman points out how Bush's new budget plans to tackle the deficit by deep cuts in food stamps, health insurance for poor children, child-care assistance, education, the CDC and law enforcement. The administration does however plan to reduce/eliminate restrictions on tax deduction for the wealthiest Americans. What do we value in this country?

And as to protecting the culture of life for every human person - what do you call someone who isn't allowed their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Gay in America, haha funny, right? Marriage is a sacrament offered by the church, and the federal government has no business restricting what goes on in the church. But civil partnerships, guaranteeing both parties' rights to file tax returns jointly, share healthcare benefits and survivor benefits should be available to all adult citizens of the United States and to deny them is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Sounds like issues made for headlines and soundbites, doesn't it? Then why isn't the Democratic Party making some noise. Why are these issues okay to lie about if you are a Republican, but too politically hot to handle for Dems? The link provided is to an article about lifting the income cap on Social Security, a plan worth considering. And how do the Democratic leaders in congress respond? "Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said his party would be attacked for advocating tax increases if it were to embrace the idea. 'We're not going to fall for that,' he said." Why are the Dems loosing ground in every aspect of politics in America? Because they are too damn scared to stand for ANYTHING! How did the GOP gain power? By carefully crafting a political image which make them look strong, decisive, powerful and willing to fight for what they believe in. Image is becoming the reality and the real losers will be the American people if the Dems don't get their act together.

But just so it doesn't seem like I have no good news to report, I give you this article on Liberal Radio. There is a future for liberalism in America for those who truly believe, but it isn't found in the center or on the sidelines. It is in the truth and the Headlines, and the time to get started is now!

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bush Stole the Election – Part III

Regular readers of this blog know that I am firmly in the tinfoil hat brigrade when it comes to believing that the last presidential election was stolen by the Bushites. There are many reasons why I believe this is the case, but as usual I seem to see things that others don’t. My main reason has to do with the extreme discrepancy between the exit polls done on the day of the election and the actual vote count.

In general, in the main stream media, there has been a predictable silence about this issue. However, Christopher Hitchens, a Bush supporter, has written a good summary of the reason why to believe the vote was hacked, at least in Ohio, in this month’s Vanity Fair. To read this I actually bought the magazine and here is some of what he says:



I would myself tend to discount most of the above [evidence of voter suppression and vote rigging], since an ogliarchy bent on stealing an election would probably not announce itself so brashly as to fit into a Michael Moore script...

However, there is one soothing explanation that I don't trust anymore. It was often said, in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be a "conspiracy so immense" as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to be part of the plan. The stakes are very high: one defector or turncoat with hard evidence could send the principals to jail forever and permanently discredit the party that had engaged in fraud.

I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people, would have to be "in on it."


I would myself tend to discount most of the above [evidence of voter suppression and vote rigging], since an ogliarchy bent on stealing an election would probably not announce itself so brashly as to fit into a Michael Moore script...

However, there is one soothing explanation that I don't trust anymore. It was often said, in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be a "conspiracy so immense" as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to be part of the plan. The stakes are very high: one defector or turncoat with hard evidence could send the principals to jail forever and permanently discredit the party that had engaged in fraud.

I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people, would have to be "in on it.


I started typing a lot of the specifics from the article and realized that I would have to reproduce it all to provide the full weight of the evidence - from voter suppression to statistical anomaly after statistical anomaly - all in Bush's favor. Go buy the magazine and read the article. Then spit in the direction of Ohio.

Other things to read on this issue

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The Iraqi Election - From Someone There

Riverbend has a new post. If you don't know who she is, she writes a blog from Baghdad called Baghdad Burning. She is a good writer, and she is definitely worth reading. If you think CNN or Fox News knows what is going on in Iraq (or even Al Jazeera) you need to read Riverbend.

It was like an voting marathon for all of the news channels- everywhere you turned there was news of the elections. CNN, Euronews, BBC, Jazeera, Arabia, LBC… everyone was talking elections. The Arab news channels were focusing largely on voting abroad while CNN kept showing footage from the southern provinces and the northern ones.

I literally had chills going up and down my spine as I watched Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem of Iranian-inclined SCIRI dropping his ballot into a box. Behind him, giving moral support and her vote, was what I can only guess to be his wife. She was shrouded literally from head to foot and only her eyes peeped out of the endless sea of black. She stuffed her ballot in the box with black-gloved hands and submissively followed a very confident Hakeem. E. turned to me with a smile and a wink, “That might be you in a couple of years…” I promptly threw a sofa cushion at him.

Most of our acquaintances (Sunni and Shia) didn’t vote. My cousin, who is Shia, didn’t vote because he felt he didn’t really have ‘representation’ on the lists, as he called it. I laughed when he said that, “But you have your pick of at least 40 different Shia parties!” I teased, winking at his wife. I understood what he meant though. He’s a secular, educated, non-occupation Iraqi before he’s Sunni or Shia- he’s more concerned with having someone who wants to end the occupation than someone Shia.

snip

In spite of that, we’re all watching for the results carefully. When the ‘elected’ government takes control, will they set a timetable for American withdrawal? That would be a shocker considering none of the current parties would be able to remain in power without being forcefully backed by America with tanks and troops. We hear American politicians repeatedly saying that America will not withdraw until Iraq can secure itself. When will that happen? Our current National Guard or “Haress il Watani” are fondly called “Haress il Wathani” or “Infidel Guard” by people in the streets. On top of it all, to be one of them is considered such a disgrace by the general population that they have to wear masks so that none of them can be identified by neighbors and friends.

snip

Last week my cousin needed to visit the current Ministry of Higher Education.

snip

So I volunteered to go along with him because I had some questions of my own.

We headed for the building containing the ministry employees (but hardly ever containing the minister). It was small and cramped. Every 8 employees were stuck in the same room. The air was tense and heavy. We were greeted in the reception area by a bearded man who scanned us disapprovingly. “Da’awachi,” my cousin whispered under his breath, indicating the man was from the Da’awa Party. What could he do for us? Who did we want? We wanted to have some documents legalized by the ministry, I said loudly, trying to cover up my nervousness. He looked at me momentarily and then turned to the cousin pointedly. My cousin repeated why we were there and asked for directions. We were told to go to one of the rooms on the same floor and begin there.

“Please dress appropriately next time you come here.” The man said to me. I looked down at what I was wearing- black pants, a beige high-necked sweater and a knee-length black coat. Huh? I blushed furiously. He meant my head should be covered and I should be wearing a skirt. I don’t like being told what to wear and what not to wear by strange men. “I don’t work here- I don’t have to follow a dress code.” I answered coldly. The cousin didn’t like where the conversation was going, he angrily interceded, “We’re only here for an hour and it really isn’t your business.”

“It is my business.” Came the answer, “She should have some respect for the people who work here.” And the conversation ended. I looked around for the people I should be respecting. There were three or four women who were apparently ministry employees. Two of them were wearing long skirts, loose sweaters and headscarves and the third had gone all out and was wearing a complete “jubba” or robe-like garb topped with a black head scarf. My cousin and I turned to enter the room the receptionist had indicated and my eyes were stinging. No one could talk that way before the war and if they did, you didn’t have to listen. You could answer back. Now, you only answer back and make it an issue if you have some sort of death wish or just really, really like trouble.

Young females have the option of either just giving in to the pressure and dressing and acting ‘safely’- which means making everything longer and looser and preferably covering some of their head or constantly being defiant to what is becoming endemic in Iraq today. The problem with defiance is that it doesn’t just involve you personally, it involves anyone with you at that moment- usually a male relative. It means that there might be an exchange of ugly words or a fight and probably, after that, a detention in Abu Ghraib.

If it’s like this in Baghdad, I shudder to think what the other cities and provinces must be like. The Allawis and Pachichis of Iraq don’t sense it- their families are safely tucked away in Dubai and Amman, and the Hakeems and Jaffaris of Iraq promote it.

At the end of the day, it’s not about having a Sunni or Shia or Kurd or Arab in power. It’s about having someone who has Iraq’s best interests at heart- not America’s, not Iran’s, not Israel’s… It’s about needing someone who wants peace, prosperity, independence and above and beyond all, unity.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This Just In

From today's Houston Chronicle, an Assoc. Press article by George Gedda. The title reads Bush aide presses for democracy protection; Official criticizes Venezuela's leader in Senate hearings. It seems Robert Zoellick, Bush's designate for #2 at the State Department worries that we need to protect Central and South America from authoritarian governments taking away their democracy.

"Zoellick said a new breed of authoritarians follows similar patterns: 'You win election, but you do away with your opponents, you do away with the press, you do away with the rule of law, you pack the courts'."....oh wait, that was W's to do list from his first term.

What exactly is the difference between the neoconservative Republican party and those dangerous, authoritarian regimes they complain about - one party rule, puppet press corp, torture, mock courts - its all here. The only thing we may have in our favor is the constitution and the will of the American people, both of which are on the endangered list.

Must get back to my taxes, one of only two truisms left in the land of the free.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Let's Get REALLY Honest

Bubba really hit the nail on the head in his assessment of the popularity of the Republican Message. They have done their homework, their market research, and framed a public image that speaks to millions. Bubba also has it right when he points out how thorough a job the GOP has done in covering the country with their representatives. They are in control, both deep and wide of all three branches of the federal government, state governments, local governments and even school boards (and let's not forget the number of boards of directors). And it is true, Rome was not built in a day. If the Dems want to undo some of the damage done by a decade of inattention to the game (protecting their king, while leaving control of the game to the other side), they are going to have to start with a plan and make every move count. It is here where I start to disagree with Bubba and his suggestions for turning things around.

Instead of pulling together as a party by forsaking those things which make the Dems truly different for the GOP, they need to really embrace who they are and what they stand for, then they need to bring that message to the American people. And not as a carefully worded sound bite for the six o'clock news, but in a landslide of information across all forms of media, using TalkRadio, Blogs, print and TV, local elections, state elections and two years from now the next national elections to get the word out - Them Dems are back! Every time someone from the GOP tries to get a word in, they need to have someone ready to interrupt, loudly. Think the Repukes have cornered the fear market? What if the new message was something really scary, images of what this country will look like and be like if the GOP is left unchallenged and unopposed.

Lets talk about what has happened to education, to civil liberties, to jobs. Lets talk about what is really happening in Iraq, whats happening with healthcare and what will happen to Social Security under Bush and His Party. Lets ask the American people if they really want to go back 25 years to huge budget deficits, gas lines and a cold war world. Do they want a world without those landmark court cases that assured the freedoms we all now take for granted, but could lose under the conservative Christians running this country. For those who bring up terrorism, let's point out our way of life is under a greater threat from within, and then tell them how to be safe both here and abroad - real truth, real freedom, real democracy for all.

Howard Dean may very well be the best man for this plan. I hope he has the cajones to do something radically different. As for me, I plan on getting Kinky for Governor, how's that for a message!

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Time for an honest assessment

Last year a lot of Democrats and progressives put a lot of energy into defeating Dubya and electing a Democrat. Somehow we believed that if a Democrat was elected President that a lot of the negative aspects of where the country has been headed would be stopped and turned around. I was as guilty of this thinking as the next guy, but in hindsight these thoughts appear quite naïve.

As I look back I realize that we have been very narrowly focused as a party. We looked at the presidential race as a long sprint, that could be won by trying very hard, focussing a large amount of energy in one area over a relatively short period of time. The Republicans, though definitely interested in winning the presidency, have for quite some time viewed the overall political landscape as a multi-fronted war zone. They have been preparing the various battlefields for their type of war for a long period of time. Slowly but surely they have won most of the State Assemblies in the US, both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency. In 2004 they expanded their lead in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

There are only two reasons why this should be the case; 1) their ideas are better and their programs are better for the average voter; and/or 2) their marketing and strategy for winning is better including getting their message out (even if most of their marketing messages are lies).

I may be deluding myself, but I don’t believe that the message coming from the Republican Party and their ideas are better than the Democrats. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that their ability to market their message and to convince people to vote against their own demonstrable self-interest is amazingly effective. Of course fear is the prime tool that the Republicans use to motivate the public – that and patriotism. Fear is the great motivator behind attacking Iraq, the Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, and most recently behind the push to change/eviscerate Social Security (“It will be bankrupt by 2042”). Patriotism is trotted out to use as a shield from their critics. (“How can you criticize the President when we are at war? Do you hate America? Our troops are in Iraq dying for you.”)

Anyway, we as Democrats have to start taking the long view. Moreover we have to stop the fratricide that is endemic in this party. We have to start getting local again. We have to win the students over again. We have to win the suburban moms and dads over again. It is not all about who picks the next Supreme Court.

For some reason, Progressives and Democrats have not been able grasp the concept of compromising some of their ideals to pursue a winning strategy. I try to be as open minded and embracing as possible on civil liberty and social justice issues. However, gay marriage is not a winning issue. It is also not an issue made for prime time. The Democratic Party cannot continue to allow fringe (but important) elements of our Party to hijack the Party's message to forward their own goal. If single issue groups want to have the support of the party as a whole they need to get on the train and get in line. Sometimes things can't happen now - even if you want them to.

Democrats and progressives have gotten addicted to judicial fiats. We have won so many important battles by taking the issue to court and having a bold jurist or panel of jurists make a sweeping decision that changes the playing field (think Brown vs. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, etc.). We need the public, though, and we are losing them.

We better be in this for the long haul or we might as well give up right now.

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