Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, May 31, 2007

When hope melts

The good shine from afar
Like the snowy Himalayas.
The bad don't appear
Even when near,

Like arrows shot into the night.

-Dhammapada, 21

So what does it mean when the 'snowy Himalayas' melt?

Will the good (still) shine from afar? Or will 'the good' also pass away with the glaciers? Will all hope melt with the pure, white Himalayan snows?

There is a danger in knowing too much. There is an old mob saying: "You know too much; I'm gonna have to kill ya." I sometimes think that knowing too much will kill you anyway. Eventually, it kills your spirit.

"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre."
- Frank Zappa

Does anyone really want to know how 'low we can go?' How corrupt, how greedy, how devoid of any empathy our government, our corporations and their 'think tanks' really are?

Aren't we raised to believe in the American myth; America, the 'good guys?' The 'land of the free, home of the brave?' Are we really ready for the truth?

Ron Paul has amassed a staggering number of devoted followers - I heard them in action on Bill Maher - because he tells the truth. But can 'truth' get elected? Or are the powers that run our nation just too strong now? They certainly own both parties in our two-party system. They appear to now own the courts, including the highest court in the land. They own the media, outright. Do they also now own the minds of the people?

A Guantanamo detainee committed suicide yesterday.
Soldiers in Iraq just want to know when they can come home. Cindy Sheehan gave up the peace movement in despair, saying that "Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months." Meanwhile prominent neocon Norman Podhoretz wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he 'hopes and prays' that President Bush will bomb Iran.

And still it goes on. This violence, the war lust, the greed, the insanity. Nothing changes.

There is a theme here. Loss of hope.

I share in Cindy Sheehan's recent loss of hope. I am searching for it everywhere, but it escapes me. The glaciers are melting (US federal government won't lift a finger to do its part, in spite of a grassroots effort to bring about this change.) The seas will rise. Democracy is dying and Lincoln's greatest fear has come to pass: corporations have been 'enthroned.'

So many Americans are still asleep. What will it take to awaken them -- and do they really want to be awake? Mainstream media works 24/7 to lull them into a dormant trance; a trance in which 'don't worry, be happy' is directly tied to 'buy this product, it will solve all of your problems.'

I honestly don't blame folks for escaping into 'American Idol.' Who would want to know all of this... devastation really exists, this heart of darkness beneath the surface of the American experience?

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An open letter to Senator Feingold

Mr Feingold...

I live in Indiana, so believe me - there is no one here 'representing me' that I can ask. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I'm not naive, and I used to consider myself to be a very logical person (I was a system analyst for 18 years.) I am also a history nut, so I've read all about the rise of Hitler.

Please tell me that I am dreaming - that I don't see what I think I see. Tell me I am wrong. From you... I would believe it.

This Executive branch is now completely out of control, and no one will impeach. There isn't even a special prosecutor. Halliburton is building - no, has built concentration camps on our own soil, and no one has told us why. The mainstream media doesn't talk about it. I've seen the aerial photos now - they are real.

Blackwater training installations are springing up all over the place, and these 'contractors' don't seem to answer to anyone... or perhaps they do. I'm afraid to ask. All I know is that our national guard - our 'militia' - is overseas, and there could be thousands of these 'other' guys running around, right here in our country. I don't know, because other than Jeremy Scahill, no one talks about them.

Our government is now torturing people, and setting up secret torture camps around the world. This is something we have never done, going all the way back to George Washington. Our president and vice president scoff at Geneva conventions. We invaded a country that didn't attack us, and seem poised to bomb or invade another one. We won't leave. People all around the world are beginning to hate us, for so many reasons now that I've lost track.

Our food is being poisoned, our medicines turn out to be lethal, and half the time the media won't even cover it. The FDA puts corporate interests ahead of saving lives.

Our media... may as well be the Pravda now. They'd rather talk about American Idol than our civil liberties, or the war. They don't talk about the fact that most of our watchdog agencies have now been 'privatized.' They seem to print pretty much whatever they are told to print, with a few exceptions.

The president has created a new 'emergency' directive that gives him dictatorial powers. But then, he has suspended habeas corpus anyway, so not sure how this really differs.

We thought we won a victory last November when we somehow managed to overcome Diebold and elect a Democratic Congress and Senate majority. But the Democratic leaders won't do anything to stop... any of this. Dennis Kucinich stood up and talked on the House floor for an entire HOUR about how our oil companies want to take Iraq's oil... and everyone ignored him. The mainstream media didn't cover it.

It appears the Democrats in Congress are either compromised by lobbyist interests -- or afraid. Maybe I'd be afraid too.

Actually I'm afraid every time I blog. For some reason I do it anyway. I think this is because the people I have always admired in my life all spoke out, and in the end I just want to be able to look at myself in the mirror. I don't want to be the kind of person who 'sins by silence when they should speak out,' as Lincoln said.

If everything I see - or think I see - is real, then by now I am probably on some list. Me... I will carry a spider out of the house before I will harm it. Some risk.

But I think and I write. That's dangerous in a society that isn't free. We live still in the belief that we are free. It now appears that this could all change on a dime. The data-miners have been making their lists for a long time.

It has all happened before. It could happen again. Our forefathers certainly warned us. I don't see anyone in Congress raising a finger to stop it. Investigations here and there, but nothing to STOP IT. Nothing that would over-rule the president should he suddenly decide to declare martial law.

I'm sitting here at my desk in the middle of the night and I can't believe... I am afraid. I'm in America, where I grew up... in Indiana no less. Everything around me is familiar. And yet, it is all becoming surreal.

Please... is there any hope? Can we pull out of this dive? Or is the fat lady warming up?

I know you aren't my representative, but frankly you're the only person I'd believe. I'd give anything to hear you say that I'm imagining all of this, and that democracy is fine and well. Please tell me that so I can sleep.

Thank you.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Killing us softly, Pt. 2

Breaking news from PetConnection blogger, Christie Keith, out on Daily Kos. And here I thought I was actually on top of this FDA, melamine, poisoned food, deadly drug, Chinese tainted disaster. Not hardly. They're way, way ahead of me.

It would seem that the FDA today announced that Tembec, an Ohio-based company, has been adding melamine and related compounds to an ingredient used to make fish, shrimp, cattle, sheep, and goat feed.

Yes, this is an AMERICAN company adding melamine to animal feed. Seriously! Apparently this feed has have been sold internationally as well as domestically. So now other countries will be forced to recall American food.

Feeling proud? You betcha.

And we truly think our corporations are any less creepy than the Chinese? Hey - the Chinese actually sentenced the head of their FDA to death. We can't even impeach... oh never mind.

I'll let Christie Keith tell you about the strange media blackout that followed:

Wed May 30, 2007 at 06:46:33 PM EDT

On May 22, the FDA suspended its until-then twice-weekly media conferences on the melamine contamination investigation, saying there was nothing new to report and they’d let us know when there was.

The night before they suspended the media conferences because there was nothing new to report, UC Davis had found melamine in a previously unrecalled pet food. FDA did subsequently issue a recall notice for this food, although they had not at the time they canceled the media conferences.

On the very day they canceled the media conferences because there was nothing new to report, a news story broke that the FDA’s own labs found melamine in catfish submitted by the state of Arkansas for testing, which was meant for human consumption. That catfish had been imported from China.

This was the first time melamine was detected in food meant for human consumption, but there still has been almost zero coverage of this in the mainstream media. Would there have been if the media conferences hadn’t been canceled?

Still wonder who the media is really working for? Democracy? Oversight? Anyone?

Christie Keith continues:

Now we find out that four days before canceling the ongoing press conferences because there was nothing new to report, on May 18, FDA learned that a US company had been adding melamine to its binding agent, which is used to make commercial fish and shrimp feed as well as livestock feed for cattle, goats, and sheep — not only in the US, but we’ve been exporting this stuff.

Some of the reporters at the media conference sounded pretty aggravated -- I especially liked the guy from the Washington Times who kept pushing for "FDA food safety czar" David Acheson to share how he felt, really felt, about the food safety official in China who just got the death penalty, and ABC News' David Kerley was absolutely relentless with his questions -- but I still want to know, where the hell has the legacy media been since the press conferences got canceled?

Not only have we been reporting these things on PetConnection -- a freaking PET BLOG, albeit one run by nationally syndicated columnists who are actual reporters, but still -- but I posted about the catfish here on DKos last Tuesday. David Goldstein has been posting about this on horsesass.org, too. It's not like there isn't a story here. It's not like the media doesn't have this story. But literally overnight, the minute FDA stops holding press conferences, it all just stopped.

Of course it stopped. My God, imagine if this one got out. Americans might (gulp) stop trusting their Bushie government...

Beam me up Scottie. This is getting beyond belief.

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Bill Maher: Why Carter was right the first time

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Killing us softly

Wonder why people are suddenly starting to get sick from the food? I mean, isn't the FDA supposed to be protecting us?

Well it used to be that way... before Bush stuffed the agency full of necon cronies bent on undermining any 'oversight' of business interests. Better get used to it... this is the 'Reagan way.'

On June 6, 2007, Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will haul in Andrew von Eschenbach to testify on why the FDA failed to warn Americans of the extreme cardiovascular danger and increased risk of death from taking Avandia, a $3 billion-a-year blockbuster diabetes drug made by GlaxoSmithKline. Statistics that were primarily obtained from GlaxoSmithKline's own research data predict that 35,000 people needlessly died taking Avandia last year and the FDA was fully aware of the risks and chose to ignore them.
Who is Andrew von Eschenbach?

Andrew von Eschenbach has never hidden his agenda; it is more an issue that people simply aren't paying attention. The top priority of the FDA is now the von Eschenbach dream, which is to bring new biotech drugs to the market with far less safety or effectiveness testing and then conduct experiments on individuals as the drugs are used in clinical practice. This effort is called the Critical Path Initiative and it will take a giant step forward should the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA come into existence as proposed in Senate bill S.1082. Von Eschenbach has stated that this is the very top priority of the FDA for many years to come (not food or drug safety).

Here is a really freaky story. Hamburger, anyone?

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

Nice, huh? There's more...

A contact-lens solution made by Santa Ana-based Advanced Medical Optics Inc. has been linked to a serious eye infection that can lead to blindness, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website Friday.

And how about this one:

Toxic fish bought at North Side shop:
Chicago Tribune

The frozen fish consumed by a Chicago couple containing a potent toxin found in puffer fish was purchased at a North Side Asian grocery, officials said Friday.

Officials declined to name the store that sold the fish. The California-based distributor announced a recall Thursday of thousands of pounds of fish.

The fish, imported from China, was labeled monkfish, but the Food and Drug Administration found life-threatening levels of tetrodotoxin, a substance found in puffer fish that can cause paralysis or death.

Who loves ya baby?

The Bush Administration and their 'new and improved' FDA, that's who. All business, all profits, all the time.

Go go capitalism! God bless America!

(Just don't eat the food...)

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Why impeachment is "off the table"

A few days ago I read a story about impeachment, from the McClatchy Bureau. I was frankly so disgusted by it that I didn't think I could write about it yet. Oddly, the frustration and anger came pouring out anyway, in a comment to a fellow Hoosier on my Daily Kos diary.

This story comes right out and states in black and white what I have believed all along: the Democrats won't consider impeachment because they believe that allowing Bush and Cheney to stay in office will help their chances in the 2008 election.

According to the story, "Democrats in Washington want to keep impeachment off the table," By Steven Thomma:

There are both policy and political reasons that Democratic leaders are risking the anger of their base.

One is that some don't see an impeachable offense in what Bush has done, what the Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." They might find such evidence in any of the many congressional investigations, but they haven't yet.

Let's debunk that one right now.

There are literally volumes of works by brilliant legal minds laying out the basis for impeachment.

First of all, anything that deliberately undercuts the Constitution is a 'high crime,' if you have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution as part of the swearing in process. Bush, Cheney, Gonzales -- all swore the oath.

High crimes might include:
  1. Outing Valarie Plame, a verified covert CIA agent. I believe this is actually a felony offense.
  2. Lying to Congress and to the American people. At least one of these lies lead to our invasion of Iraq. If that isn't a 'high crime,' I honestly don't know what is.
  3. Illegal rendition
  4. Holding prisoners without due process
  5. Secret torture camps... promoting torture in the first place.
  6. There is the growing proof that they tampered with the election process (felony)

But the biggest case for impeachment, according to most legal scholars, is the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

Elizabeth De la Vega, a 20-year federal prosecutor has probably laid out the best legal case for impeachment in her book "United States V. George W. Bush et al." This is a brilliant and well crafted legal analysis, and there are many others.

Here are a few of the better ones:

  1. The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office, by Dave Lindorff

  2. Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, from The Center for Constitutional Rights

  3. Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush And Cheney, by Dennis Loo

  4. George W. Bush Versus the U.S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, Coverups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying, by John Conyers Jr.

  5. The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens, by Elizabeth Holtzman

There is enormous popular support for impeachment. The entire State of Maine is trying to impeach Bush and Cheney. Detroit voted to impeach - with a unanimous vote - bringing the total number of cities demanding impeachment to 70. The people of Vermont are lobbying for impeachment. The people of Massachusetts are trying to bring impeachment charges as well. California wants to impeach. Dennis Kucinich already brought impeachment charges against Cheney in the House. Conyers says he supports it.

And still, Pelosi says impeachment is off the table.

The Democrats are either remarkably illiterate when it comes to the impeachment process, or are pretending to be ignorant in the hope that the American people will somehow 'buy' that they are helpless. They are not helpless.

We have never - in our entire history - actually removed a president from office via the impeachment process. Rather, the process is in fact an investigation into wrong-doing; with charges filed by the House, and the case tried in the Senate with the Supreme Court acting as the judges.

The chances that Bush would be impeached by these particular Senators and these particular Justices seems remote, but the point is to dig out the dirt - to file the charges and hold them accountable. Let the democratic process work. It was the prospect of the impeachment process (and the dirt that would be uncovered) that led to Nixon's resignation... not impeachment itself.

Even Norman Ornstein,
a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said, "I think if we're going to be intellectually honest here, this (domestic spying) really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed."

Dear God, how can Pelosi be this clueless... unless....

Another is that they fear a political backlash from voters similar to the one that punished Republicans after they impeached Bill Clinton. One factor on the side of the pro-impeachment crowd: Clinton was much more popular than Bush.

Get out. Ludicrous. That is patently ridiculous.

First of all, there apparently wasn't enough 'backlash' against the GOP after their impeachment attempt against Clinton to stop Bush from being elected president in 2000, along with numerous other necons.

The American people thought the entire Clinton impeachment was partisan posturing at best, disgusting and pathetic to take a mild stand... but the dirt they splashed all over the media about Bill did affect Gore and his run for President.

There was absolutely no backlash against the GOP at all -- none -- although God knows there should have been. There would have been, had we the services of an impartial media corps.

If the GOP could do that much damage with a bogus impeachment trial against a very popular president -- how on earth could impeaching a criminal president with a 28% rating; a guy who started an entire WAR based on lies, has been undercutting Constitutional protections, spying on American citizens without a court order, leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent, tampered with election results... how could this possibly bring a backlash? My God -- this is a slam dunk!

If we are to the point where entire States - not to mention 70 individual cities, including Detroit - are trying to impeach Bush and Cheney... how on earth can the Democrats claim they 'fear a backlash?' (More likely they fear Cheney will magically make their small planes crash into a corn field in Nebraska.)

In a working democracy, they should fear the backlash of ignoring the will of the people. The people have made their wishes very clear. The people want impeachment. The people want justice.

The third is that they're eager to keep Bush and Cheney around as punching bags for Democratic candidates in the 2008 campaign.
Ah, here it is... the truth at last. This is all a partisan game.

This is the crux of why I became an Independent. This is just so... immoral. I cannot be a party to this. I can not be a part of this party, or any party that will put partisan gain ahead of lives, morality and justice.

How are they any different or any better than Karl Rove?

Consider me a conscientious objector. There are people dying while the Democratic party plays these partisan games, while ignoring the will of the people, justice, morality -- and their own oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

I cannot go along with this.
I just can't do it.

Lincoln, a veritable font of inspiriation these days, said:

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong. - Abraham Lincoln
That is why I became an Independent, in a nutshell. I have a conscience.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm Cindy

I spent some time today reading the hundreds of comments on Cindy Sheehan's online diary at Daily Kos (I was out on Daily Kos nosing around yesterday when she posted.)

For some reason, I couldn't stop thinking about the "I'm Harry" t-shirts that Prince Harry's comrades in the Blues and Royals planned to wear in Iraq, as a show of solidarity if Harry was deployed. Harry was an obvious target. But Harry didn't stand alone.

We are no different. When Cindy Sheehan is attacked - we are diminished as a nation. Cindy spoke for us. She stood in front of an entire peace movement. But not alone. For some, she seemed an easy target... if you call attacking a grieving mother 'easy.'

"I'm Cindy."

Those of you who sought to take her down with hateful words and judgment - if you want to bully someone, we're right here. We stand together. There are hundreds of thousands of us now, and we're not going anywhere.

Cindy never asked to be a hero, or a martyr. She only asked for answers: for her son Casey, and for all parents, wives, husbands and children who have lost a loved one in this war. She was a voice for the largely invisible families of these soldiers overseas. She not only 'supported the troops,' she sacrificed years of her life on their behalf, in a tireless effort to bring them home.

She spoke for all of us who hate this war.

Cindy won the moral victory, hands down. She refused to be denied, but set up camp right in front of George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford Texas. She called him out (displaying quite a bit more courage than any Congressmen or Senators we've seen lately.) In response, Bush demonstrated nothing but disdain for Cindy's pain - and Casey's sacrifice - when he refused to even meet with her.

How could meeting with a grieving mother possibly have hurt the man, or his exalted, presidential mystique? After all, wasn't Bush supposed to be that 'compassionate conservative?' I'd have thought he would have seen this as a terrific photo op at the very least. By refusing to acknowledge her, Bush showed an unconscionable lack of respect for all families who have lost loved ones in his war. He owes every one of them an explanation, at the very least.

And America watched.

Support for this war is now at an all time low, in great part because of Cindy's tireless efforts. She put a face to the real, and so often hidden cost of this war. Perhaps that is why Bush feared her, and hid from her inside his ranch. She called his bluff. She made everyone think, really think about his motives for attacking Iraq, his 'support of the troops,' and the very real consequences of his actions. Bush somehow managed to hide the returning coffins, but he was helpless to 'hide' or silence Cindy.

Before Cindy spoke out, many people were outraged. But Cindy was the flag around which we rallied. I never met Cindy Sheehan. I didn't have to - she inspired me. She demonstrated to all of us what one determined person can do, in the face of incredible opposition. When everyone else was afraid, Cindy was strong. She was there when we needed her, speaking truth to power.

A very different president

Abraham Lincoln never shied away from the families of Civil war fallen, or avoided sharing in their grief. There are many stories of Lincoln meeting with widows when they came to the White House, or visiting wounded solders and spending time with them. Lincoln even went to the front lines, and once had to be pulled out of harm's way when his very distinctive stove pipe hat proved an obvious target for Confederate sharpshooters.

Sounds a bit like Prince Harry, actually. By all accounts, Lincoln anguished daily over the human toll of war, and often took personal risks along side the men who were doing the fighting and dying for the Union cause.

I guess this is called 'empathy.' Or responsibility. Or perhaps it was basic humanity. Whatever it was, we don't elect that kind of leader anymore.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Yes. This is what a president can be.

Bush demonstrated no such character or courage. Perhaps... he just doesn't care. Perhaps he can't be bothered. After watching his lack of response after Katrina, it is hard for many of us to believe he feels anything at all.


I have a modest tradition of going to the nearest cemetery on Memorial Day, simply to read the names of those who have died in wars. I have always believed that this is the very least I can do: remember, acknowledge these guys and their sacrifice. I am especially sad when I walk by the graves of Vietnam vets. So many of them died after returning home... and so very young. The dates on the headstones tell a tragic story. The consequences of this war will also remain with us, for decades.

Yesterday I couldn't muster the energy to go. I was too sad. Even my own morale is at an all time low. I can't imagine how devastating this Memorial Day must have been for Cindy Sheehan.

The timing of this Democratic betrayal was so cruel. Brutal, especially for those of us who pinned our hopes on this Democratic majority and their paper promises. I am glad our representatives had their 'Memorial Day break.' I wish I could make their vacation permanent. The troops in Iraq didn't get any break from fighting on 'Memorial Day'. In fact, 10 more American soldiers died on Monday, while our representatives were giving speeches and saying 'grave words of sorrow.' Spare us. For the mothers, the sisters, brothers, and children of these soldiers, there certainly wasn't any break from the fear. Their daily hell drags on.

This Democratic Congress has managed to kill our hope in record time. I imagine the families of the fallen - and those still deployed - are now convinced that they are completely on their own. I don't blame them. I spent today wondering if democracy is finally over in this country.

Camp Casey

Someone suggested turning Camp Casey into an Iraq Veterans Memorial. I think that would be an excellent idea. A permanent memorial to Cindy, to Casey, and to all of our soldiers who trusted in their government, in democracy, and in the responsible leadership of their Commander in Chief.

Cindy - you did all that you could do. Rest now. We'll take it from here.

I put the design online at Zazzle

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The beginning of the end

Ever wake up so disillusioned... that you can just barely write?

I was reading some great commentaries out on Daily Kos this morning, and I came across this - a diary entited "Will Bush walk away in 2009?". Many of the components add up to what I have believed may... maybe even will happen in our country within the next couple of years. There are just too many signs that we are headed down this road. The pieces are all in place. Any student of history can see them now. It is as though Bush and Co. are following a script... and perhaps they are.

I have known about the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive since shortly after it was released. I even blogged about it, while keeping my real fears to myself. I tried to take the Jon Stewart route and turn it into a joke. W in my yard with a bulldozer.

I have heard all about these Halliburton concentration camps, being built right here, in our country. What I hadn't known, was that there are actually satellite photos available. Actually seeing at them makes my blood run cold.

Nazis. All over again. God help us.

First, our Executive branch goes on a power-grabbing spree - and nobody stops them. The Republican congress just kept giving Bush and Cheney the rubber 'whatever you want' stamp - with Democrat capitulation of course, over and over again.

Next, government officials started beating their chests and promoting torture, flaunting the Geneva conventions. The media has already been compromised: all mainstream media now regularly 'black out' certain vital news stories and fill our heads with sensationalism and utter nonsense, while at the same time promoting violence and torture via '24' (on Fox, of course.) Army generals are having a terrible time trying to undo the damage... and convince army recruits that torture isn't the army way. It is, however, the Vice President's way.

Halliburton is building concentration camps on our national soil. And everyone is watching American Idol.

When I was in third grade and studying WWII, I apparently drew the short straw and found myself researching the Holocaust. I can't imagine who thought this would be a good idea - for a third grader to see photos of bodies stacked like cord wood - but I saw them. I saw photos of the inspection lines full of women, grandparents and children departing from the deportation trains. Left, work. Right, gas chambers.

I didn't sleep for weeks. No, more like months. And there were the nightmares, about marching Nazis with high, black, shiny boots... always marching, pounding on our door, carrying us away to be tortured and killed. In my memory, throughout my entire life, there is nothing that has ever scared me so much... as Nazis.

For a greater portion of my life I even denied my own German heritage. I could not be German. I would not accept being German, in any part. I blamed the German people for allowing the Nazis to go that far and for doing nothing to stop it.

I think I understand a little better now. Governments are subverted in a slow and secret creep. It is invariably an inside job. To see it coming, you have to look quite closely. People in this country don't look closely at anything these days. Ask them, and they'll say they're just 'too busy.' They're all working several jobs, racing all over town - kids in tow - and at night they collapse in front of American Idol. Our newspapers are full of useless fluff, with real news relegated to the middle sections with the ads. We are a culture of excess and denial.

And so of course, there was a golden opportunity. And someone- some group of Machiavellian plotters - saw that opportunity and raced into the vacuum.

The only thing left now is the wait for the inevitable boots marching in the streets, the banging on the door, and the trains. Perhaps in this day and age, they will simply use trucks.

My greatest fear coming true, and in my own country. I would rather have died of strep as a child than to have lived long enough to see this happen.

Oh sure, we may somehow avoid this total democratic collapse. But judging from the nervous capitulation - or perhaps partisan arrogance - of our Democratic 'majority,' I somehow think we won't. We are on a collision course with hell.

Will Bush really step down in 2009? Good question. Does he have to? Not anymore.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

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To be Republican... Democrat... or American.

Cindy Sheehan quit the Democratic Party yesterday.

I and many others happily welcome Cindy into the freedom of 'Independent-hood' with open arms.

Leaving the Democratic Party was a very empowering experience for me. I became an Independent after placing a call to Nancy Pelosi's office last winter. I asked the aide who answered Pelosi's phone just what - exactly - it would take for Nancy to put impeachment 'on the table.' The aide became flustered, angry, said something snippy and hung up on me.

I was stunned, furious and speechless. Something snapped: I felt it break. It was the cord that tied me to this broken party.

No voter (let alone active supporter) should ever tolerate this kind of abuse from a representative that we supported and carried into her vaulted position as House Speaker.

The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men (and apparently the women) who pervert the Constitution. - Abraham Lincoln

After a lifetime as a Democrat, I quit the party on the spot. I felt a heavy weight lift from my soul. Suddenly I was no longer powerless. I have opted out of the lie. I refuse to play this 'if you don't want them, you're stuck with us' game anymore. Anyone who wants my vote will have to earn it.

I highly recommend this - it really has changed my perspective, on everything. I can think of no better way to end this childish, partisan behavior than to simply walk away from it.

Neither a Republican nor a Democrat be; be rather, a true American citizen. Swear allegiance to no party with small-minded, selfish interests, but rather save your devotion for the high-minded ideals of true patriotism, democracy and liberty. - me, trying my best to sound grave and historical.

Lincoln left the Whig party and became a Republican, in a time when being 'Republican' meant believing in freedom for all people, regardless of race. He walked away from the Whigs - and we can walk away from these two corrupted parties.

The only way we will save our democracy is to turn our backs on these corporate pawns and build a coalition that represents the will of the people. I use the word 'coalition,' because no one should be left out, from either party.

No one will do this for us - no one else will magically fix our government. We must do this ourselves, as our forefathers did it before us, and for us.

In her Memorial Day letter to Congress, Cindy wrote:

The Camp Casey Peace Institute is calling all citizens who are as disgusted as we are with you all to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor. We do not condone our government's violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq.

Cindy is right. There must be a third alternative. Not a weak alternative, or fragmented, divided groups that only undercut other progressives, including those still within the Democratic Party. Gore would have been a terrific president, and hopefully we will get another shot at electing him. When discussing his new book, "The Assault on Reason" recently, he described many current politicians as 'good people trapped in a bad system.'

Strangely, these 'good people' can't seem to get together and actually fix the 'bad system' that has shut them down. It appears our only hope is to somehow fix it from out here, by electing representatives free of ties to either of these partisan parties.

My version of 'becoming an Independent' doesn't preclude voting for progressive Democrats, or Republicans for that matter. What it does mean is that I - we - no longer endorse these parties as a whole. We no longer serve the interests of their lobbyist toadies. We have opted out of the game, as played by their rules - which are not the rules of our nation's founders.

Both parties have sold their souls to corporate interests, and in doing so, both parties have sold out the people... and apparently now, the planet. We need a third party that can be embraced by enough people to actually win.

In our particular case and in our time, winning is everything. The winner restores democracy and fights climate change - hopefully in time to make a difference. Time is running out. If Gore had been in office the past 6 years, we could be reversing harmful greenhouse emissions right now, at this very moment. Instead, the Bush administration only made it worse. He and his corporate minions have corrupted and infiltrated the very watchdog departments within our government that served to protect us from tainted food, poisoned water, and environmental calamity.

We can't afford to let another Necon walk away with the White House. Whatever we do, we can't afford to let that happen again. It will avail us nothing if we try to claim some sort of ideological high ground while our democracy - and all of humanity - are destroyed in the process.

We must commit to actually win.

This will undoubtedly mean pulling together to back an Independent candidate, an Independent Bipartisan ticket, or a Progressive Democrat - and invite all angry Republicans and Democrats to join us. The only way we will win, is by throwing out those divisive 'wedge' issues and coming together in this common cause.

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. - Abraham Lincoln

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Reading "The Assault on Reason" (pt. 1)

I just started reading Al Gore's new book, "The Assault on Reason." So much of what he says resonates.

Incredible book so far. How on earth can we get this book - the ideas put forth in the book - into the minds and discussions of the Fox news crowd? As Lincoln once said, we can't survive as a nation, half Fox and half free. (OK, I may be paraphrasing...) If only we could reach them, bring them into our democratic 'discussion.' This is their democracy too.

As I read (and realize I just started the book - Al will probably 'go there,') I keep envisioning the role that organized religion has (and is playing to a great degree now from within our government) in this assault on reason. So many church leaders preach blind adherence - obedience - to dogma and to their interpretation of scriptures, no questions allowed. I think this carries over into society - it is the intent of these religious leaders that it carry over into the schools, government, the judiciary - everywhere.

When these religious leaders decide that they are going to save the heathens (or save themselves from us, the heathens,) and start building Liberty colleges all around the country, they are graduating classes of individuals that literally refuse to reason. These people have been raised to obey and never question, which is in direct conflict with the founding principles of democracy, that we question and never blindly obey.

They have been taught that anything is acceptable if it is in the best interests of their party (especially if told by religious leaders that this is 'the will of God.) Without any words yet from Al on the subject, I suspect that much of this assault on reason and democracy can be traced back to the teachings of these religious leaders.

I mean - come on - undermining science in the schools? It is happening. In the 90s it would have been unthinkable - laughable. The book burnings will be next (except of course, nobody really reads books anymore... perhaps they will burn us instead.)

And then there is the irresponsible, corporately-controlled television media...

I was lucky, so lucky, that my parents refused to buy a television set until I was 6 years old (and then refused to let me sit there in front of it like a vegetable.) I certainly wanted to spend all day watching cartoons like my friends, but they tossed me out the door to play. And so, wonder of wonders, I learned to find creative things to do outside - and to read. And that saved my life.

Interesting to note that as an adult, I can't sit still in front of a TV without my attention wandering. It has no hold on me. It bores me. Two-year-olds watch more television in a week than I watch in the course of a month. How can this be good for their cognitive development? How will they learn to be creative and ask questions?


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That Card is played out

Andy Card was roundly booed by both students and faculty when he took the stage to receive an honorary degree at UMass.

And get this: Card was awarded an honorary doctorate in public service!

Good God - no wonder they nearly rioted. The day 'public service' includes bullying a sick man in a hospital room in an attempt to subvert the Constitution... oh never mind. UMass students and faculty took care of business.

Apparently democracy and open discourse are alive and well on the UMass campus (and it's obvious they have all been watching Jon Stewart!)

The protesters - actually, that included nearly everyone in the room, save the bozo who decided that honoring Card would be a good idea in the first place - waved signs, hoisted banners and shouted their disgust for nearly two minutes straight. What a catharsis. Its fun just watching it. Graduates even wore anti-Card signs pinned to their gowns and caps.

Neocons now on the run... perchance the sleeping giant has awakened at long last?

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Controlling the spigot

Apparently the same day Dennis Kucinich gave his hour long presentation - to an ambivalent House - about US Oil pressure to privatize oil in Iraq, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) made the following statement on the House floor:

Mr. Speaker: (wouldn't this be Ms. Speaker?)

This President and Vice President have vowed to repeat the mistakes of history, and they have put into motion a plan to do just that in Iran, even as the House is about to send the President a box of blank checks for Iraq, against the will of the American people.

The history is worth knowing.

In 1953, the United States and United Kingdom launched Operation Ajax, a covert CIA operation to destabilize and remove the democratically elected government of Iran, including then Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

Why? Oil.

Under Mossadegh, the Iranian government decided to reclaim Iranís rightful ownership of its national oil treasure, which had been exclusively controlled by the British who were taking 85 percent of the profits.

Oh, and by the way, the UK also kept the books secret, merely telling Iran what its 15 percent take was.

As soon as Mossadegh began to reclaim Iranís oil treasure, it was all over. Operation Ajax was set into motion.

The U.S. embassy in Tehran provoked phony internal Iranian dissent, while the Brits engineered an Iranian financial crisis by orchestrating a global boycott of Iranian oil. We brought down the Iranian government and installed the Shah.

For two decades, we propped up the Shah against the will of the Iranian people. It was all about controlling Iran. It still is. Today, ABC News is reporting exclusively that this President has authorized a new covert CIA plot to bring down the Iranian government.

I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the journalism produced by chief investigative reporter Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of ABC News.

This is their lead sentence in the story.

“The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.”

We’re back in 1953 and that worked out so well.

Of course, the Vice President wanted to invade Iran, so we can be sure he will spin new tales of fear in coming days to keep his preferred option, invasion, very much alive.

The President knows only one way -- my way or the highway.

His Vice President knows only one way- invade and seize control of what you want- and he wants the oil treasure of Iraq and Iran to become wholly owned subsidiaries of the western oil companies he so favors.

With Iraq in civil war, the President has authorized a secret plan to repeat the doomed mistakes of history in Iran.

How many billions of reconstruction money for Iraq will be siphoned off for the deconstruction of Iran?

The American people are virtually shouting at us to pay attention and get our soldiers out of Iraq, now.

Vast sums of U.S. taxpayer money are flowing into Iraq and billions of US dollars are missing.

The Special Inspector for Iraq Reconstruction told a San Antonio newspaper last week that corruption in Iraq is endemic and debilitating.

But, Prime Minister al-Maliki has granted ministers and former ministers immunity from prosecution by Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity.

And, in turn, the ministers can shield their own employees from prosecution.

And, a government that has been told by this President and Vice President to pass an oil law that transfers control- and profits- to western oil companies, just like the good old days in Iran.

Overthrowing Iran in 1953 was all about oil. Invading Iraq was all about oil. And the new secret plot against Iran is all about oil.

Oil is the only benchmark this President and Vice President want, and they will keep American soldiers fighting and dieing until an oil law is passed in Iraq that gives western oil companies control of the spigot.

It is time to unmask the latest doomed plot to overthrow Iran and past time to get out soldiers out of Iraq.

Nothing less than protecting our troops is acceptable.

Thank you.

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Jon Stewart dissects the Goodling testimony

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Those who voted no

Just say no.

Ron Paul was one of only two Republicans in the House to vote against the war. Yes, officially this was a vote to provide the 'war funding' without deadlines or consequences attached.

Senator Hillary was smart enough to know she should vote against the funding bill, and from what I have heard, Obama voted against it at the very last moment (once he knew it would pass? That is what I have heard, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.)

Congressman Dennis Kucinich - of course - voted against the blank check, and a few other Democratic Senators voted against: Leahy, Feingold (of course,) Kerry and Kennedy. Representatives Barbara Boxer and Jerry McNerney also voted nay - I know without looking, because they sent out emails expressing their dismay at the outcome.

Tough (GOP) guys don't cry

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner wept openly on the House floor, asking when America was going to 'make the killers of the 3000 9/11 victims accountable for their crimes.'

Well, sir that is a good question. Because you see, the actual terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, not Iraq - and are all dead. The man who took credit for the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Osama Bin Laden, is apparently in Pakistan - not Iraq.

So you have a valid point... sort of. Whither Bin Laden? Are we even looking for him? Of course, he is much more useful to Bush alive than dead; he makes a terrific and very convenient boogyman with which to scare the American populace.

Mr. Boehner, sir: everyone knows that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The only people who don't understand this after years of bungled warfare, are the people who persist in watching Fox News. Perhaps you are one of them, and you really don't have any idea what you are talking (or crying) about. This honestly wouldn't surprise me.

If your tears are in earnest, and you really do want justice... try looking for Bin Laden. Try talking to the Pakistani government. Of course, you can't take their oil, so why would you bother? If you aren't seriously looking for Bin Laden - don't talk to us about 9/11 victims. That is Giuliani's shameless territory.

Don't need no more lies.

Read it and weep

Full tally of yesterday's vote:

House vote

Senate vote

Representative Julia Carson was the lone hero from Indiana - in either the House or the Senate. We're not terribly surprised. I called her office and thanked her.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Truth or consequences

I wonder if we as Americans can ever break free of media influence and elect a president that will really represent us.

Oh we have plenty of leaders: candidates with integrity, honesty, new and creative solutions to serious national issues - even a little 'fire in the belly' from time to time. We also have legislators with strong records of defending our interests in congress, instead of toeing the lobbyist line.

Yet for some mysterious reason, we we allow our television media - and powerful corporate donors - to pick our candidates for us, and the best people seem to fall right off the radar. If a candidate doesn't have that desired 'look' or 'slick packaging', they are marginalized - ignored - summarily dismissed as irrelevant. We are letting corporations and the media dictate our democracy to us, based on... appearances and sound bites.

Why is that? Can't we think for ourselves anymore?

I often find myself comparing our current, broken electoral system with the one that was in place just before the Civil War, when the fledgling Republican party had recently formed out of a coalition of former Whigs, Northern Democrats, and Free-Soilers who opposed the expansion of slavery (hint to angry Democrats and Republicans - we've formed new parties before, and quite successfully.)

Abraham Lincoln made made a national name for himself as an outspoken critic of slavery, and as a brilliant orator during a series of debates with popular and charismatic Democrat Stephen A. Douglas in 1858 (both were running for the US Senate seat from Illinois.) In spite of his gawky, tall frame, ill-fitting suits and high, reedy voice, Lincoln had a rare gift: he could inspire an audience by connecting with them on a human level, and by telling them the truth.

Lincoln lost the Senate race in 1858, but beat Douglas two years later in the 1860 presidential campaign, to become President of the United States. By this time, everyone knew who he was and remembered his fiery and persuasive arguments from the Illinois debates.

The two differed in more than background and education (Douglas received a classical education, and Lincoln was from a humble background and self-taught.) Douglas had chaired the Senate Committee on Territories, and helped enact the Compromise of 1850, which included the highly controversial Fugitive Slave Act. Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act outraged many abolitionists, and heightened their resolve to put an end to slavery once and for all. This act also served to bring the the subject of slavery squarely into the public eye, and many people who had previously been ambivalent began to question the morality of the institution.

Douglas was a proponent of 'Popular Sovereignty,' and was responsible for the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which led to the outbreaks of unprecedented violence in Kansas. In contrast, Lincoln represented the growing anti-slavery movement that was taking hold across the nation, and believed that the country could not survive as one nation, half slave and half free. The country was being torn apart by the divisive issue of slavery, and people were paying close attention to the opinions held by each candidate - as demonstrated in both their words, and their actions.

The media of the time - which consisted solely of newspapers - was undoubtedly every bit as slanted as it is today, with the exception that there was no television: the people actually read, and thus were able to see actual transcripts of the candidates' speeches and debates, rather than relying on sound bites picked out by the television media. By reading the actual words of the candidates, citizens could discern where each one stood on important issues. And if a candidate was a talented writer/speaker, he could often sway many readers solely by his choice of words, the intensity of his argument, and his intellectual prowess as he made his case.

People have a pretty good sense for when they are being told the truth. In recent years, our contact with our candidates has been carefully screened by 'handlers' and edited by the powerful, corporately-owned media. But surely, people really do want the truth. They crave the truth. They have simply lost track of how to connect with the authenticity of the person for whom they plan to vote.

In the old days of 'stumping,' the people gathered around and actually listened to live speeches and debates. There was no hiding for these politicians - no lights, no make-up, no leading questions. They duked it out in a clever and intelligent war of words, and to the victor went both popular support... and the nod of his party. In those days, intelligence and grasp of issues easily trumped looks, lighting or corporate sponsors. The candidate sank or swam on his own merit.

Candidates were picked by their own party leaders - who had known them for years, and could vouch for their character. The chosen candidate's intelligence and ability was well established, and generally anyone who was picked to represent his party in a general election had the education, stability and leadership skills to eventually run the nation. It is believed that members of Lincoln's new party underestimated his independent nature, and expected him to take direction from more powerful leaders behind the scenes and basically toe the party line.

However once elected, Lincoln showed creativity and an unusual willingness to embrace non-partisanship, by picking for his cabinet political opponents and politicians who frankly and openly disliked him - all on the basis of their credentials. Lincoln demonstrated a remarkable ability to pick the most effective and competent person for each of his cabinet positions, and placed his loyalty to party - and personal comfort - behind the best interests of the nation as a whole.

We don't have to go back to Lincoln's time to find examples of political courage and devotion to 'nation over partisanship.' Lately we have been treated to some rather remarkable acts of political courage and devotion to truth, in presidential debates and on the House floor.

Last Wednesday, Dennis Kucinich claimed an hour of time on the House floor, and delivered a powerful and truthful expose on the inner workings of the oil industry and their designs on Iraqi oil. Kucinich explained how this lust for Iraqi oil led us directly into this current and disastrous war, and implied that we will never extricate ourselves while the Iraqi people manage to hold out against the interests of Exxon, Chevron and BP.

This was amazing, truthful and critically relevant testimony. Yet it received no mainstream, corporate media coverage, was largely ignored by other members of the House - even members of the Democratic party. I find it hard to imagine that something so critical and so fundamental to our current situation could have been swept under the rug, but there it is: it happened.

Kucinich is often laughed at or simply ignored by the national media. Whereas Lincoln was 'too tall,' Kucinich is apparently 'too short'; he speaks his mind, and sometimes comes across as a bit folksy or 'off the cuff,' (similar in many ways to Lincoln and his famous yarns.) The media pundits will also tell you something else - something that would have spelled disaster for Lincoln if he were to run for the presidency today. According to television media 'experts,' Kucinich doesn't look presidential.

I have often wondered if 'doesn't look presidential' really translates to 'we can't bully, influence or control you.'

The media would have us believe that issues are of far less importance... than how the candidate looks, and how well he or she 'spins.' Since most Americans claim that they do not want a president that lies or 'spins' every word, but rather gives it to us straight: it would appear that the television media and our best interests are at cross purposes.

In his own time, Lincoln suffered many of the same, lame media abuses. Cartoonists mocked him, portrayed him as an ape, a hillbilly and made fun of his home-spun humor, while describing him as an ignorant farmer. Of course as we know today, the truth was vastly different. Lincoln was one of the sharpest minds and wits in our presidential history, with a firm grasp of law, government, and even military strategy.

Somehow, the people saw through all of the media slander and connected with the character of the man. And they were rewarded with 'presidential courage,' and dedicated, bipartisan leadership during a time of national crisis.

If not for Lincoln's leadership, America would be two separate nations today... or perhaps it would have ceased entirely to exist. Perhaps we would now be a region of Canada, a 'state' in Mexico, or worse... the Nazis or Japanese would have eventually invaded and enslaved us during WWII. It is impossible to know where we would be today, had there been no President Abraham Lincoln to bring us through the bloody Civil War as one nation, intact.

I often wonder if we have lost our way as people, and as a nation. We seem to have forgotten to use our minds, but instead sit dumbly and passively in front of the television set, feeding on whatever garbage the media has served up for our consumption. Perhaps this is the result of several generations of Americans growing up with televisions as glorified babysitters; or perhaps there is some other brain deadening effect built into the medium that allows us to abandon our natural skepticism and reason when we flip on the set.

Do we really want the truth? Because candidates like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul would be happy to tell us everything we say we want to hear, and more. Or are we instead willing to settle for a political 'American Idol;' with blow-dried, clean-cut and good-looking actor/politicians, posing for the cameras while carefully avoiding the issues - or heaven forbid - letting slip with any comments that might be construed as an actual opinion?

What about the pathetic state of our health care system, our disappearing jobs, the poisoning of our food, pollution, climate change, inflation, loss of our constitutional protections, and this horrific, bloody, illegal and budget-breaking war? These are issues that affect us all, every single day. Who on earth really cares or is affected by how much John Edwards paid for a haircut? How on earth can that possibly be relevant in a presidential campaign? When will we tire of this media circus, and demand some real honesty, authenticity and straight answers?

Dennis Kucinich gave us issues and answers, and he sounded a very loud trumpet of alarm. So did Ron Paul, when he lectured Rudy Giuliani on the finer points of U.S. history - and our years of intervention in Middle Eastern politics - during the second GOP debate. It is time for us to pay attention... even if this means occasionally watching C-Span, to find out what is really happening in our government (yes, it is boring to watch the House and Senate plod around.) It is time for us to break free of media influence, especially that of television, and instead turn on our active brains and doggedly pursue the truth.

Why are we in Iraq? What is the best plan of action to get our troops out? Every voting American should be asking these questions and actively seeking out the candidate that will best accomplish this end. John Edward's haircut has nothing to do with our nation's role in this bloody 'War on Terror.' Mitt Romney's declaration that he would like to 'double the size of Guantanamo,' and Rudy Giuliani's shameless promotion of torture are frighteningly relevant to our future as a nation.

What do we the people of this nation think it means to be 'American,' and what is our system of values? What do we believe in - what do we consider moral? Is torture moral? Are cluster bombs that kill hundreds of innocent civilians... moral? And are we truly willing to give up our democracy for a little 'temporary safety?' If not, we had better get off the couch and take charge of our government: it is ours, and we have been entrusted with its protection so that it will survive for future generations.

The Internet provides many new opportunities to hear our candidates as they wish to be heard, speaking in their authentic voices - whether via personal blogs, their own video and YouTube presentations (free of media influence,) or their own written dispatches. There is no longer any reason to settle for sugar-coated drivel dished out by mainstream television pundits. We don't need a cynical middle man editing our democratic dialog... we need truth.

I believe it was Mulder of 'X-Files' fame who said "the truth is out there." The opportunity to wake up, pay attention, and meet our candidates is available to us. The choice is in our hands.

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Olbermann: The Neville Chamberlain Moment

"Who among us will stop this war?"

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Nothing new under the sun

We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read. - Abraham Lincoln

I read the news today, oh boy. - The Beatles

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dennis menaces the oil industry

This morning, I actually turned on C-Span.

I try to avoid this - honestly, I'd be better off avoiding all news these days, it gives me nightmares - but today was going to be special. Monica Goodling was scheduled to speak before the House Judiciary Committee, and Dennis Kucinich planned to speak for an entire hour about Congressional and White House efforts to privatize the oil of Iraq.

I somehow missed the Goodling testimony (although I suspect it will pop up on YouTube any moment,) but I did catch the tail end of Dennis' presentation. All I can say is - wow - this man is "Elliot Ness goes to Congress." His talk was carefully researched and crafted, harrowingly specific, named a vast assortment of sources, facts, numbers, dollars - and pointed fingers.

If this remarkable hour of 'truthiness' makes it to YouTube, I will definitely post the entire video here on this blog, because honestly everyone should see it.

Wonder what we're really doing in Iraq? Dennis lays it all out.

You already knew it was about the oil - the Baker Group even admitted that much. But the entire web of facts and figures behind the lies; the greed and deceit that the Cheney administration wove into an open war of aggression against Iraq -- well, let me just say that the sum total of this indictment will blow your mind.

Sometimes reality is more riveting even than Hollywood. And a lot more frightening.

UPDATE: There is literally no news coverage, anywhere, about his hour long talk. It seems to have been completely blacked out. I found one blurb about it in 'The Hill,' and the writer even mentioned that the members of the House ignored him when he spoke.

And we wonder why this war will never end.

Kucinich blasts efforts to ‘privatize’ Iraq’s oil
By Mike Soraghan
May 23, 2007

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a fervent Iraq war opponent and dark horse presidential candidate, claimed an hour of floor time Wednesday to criticize Iraq’s hydrocarbon law.

Kucinich argued that the proposed law would privatize Iraqi oil. He said the Iraq supplemental expected to pass the House tomorrow sets passage of the law as a benchmark the Iraqi government must meet. He says that provision should be removed.

“We must not be a party to any attempt by multi-national oil companies to take over Iraq’s oil resources,” he said. “This is an outrageous exploitation of a nation torn apart by American intervention.”

His declarations went largely ignored. No one sought to intervene, and when he was done, the House quickly moved to a non-controversial bill revising the boundaries of The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

Yeah. Carl Sandburg would be rolling in his grave at the sight of these congressional cowards ditzing around with his home at a time like this.

Fortunately, Dennis has it all printed up and out on his website. Even the visual aids! Hopefully video coming soon. When I find one, I'll post it.

Keep the faith Dennis. Lincoln would support you -- hell, Lincoln would have been standing up there next to you - and I hear he was one hell of an orator, as Sandburg would no doubt tell you.

Sometimes I wish we could bring Abe back - just for a few hours - and set him loose, so he could knock the cobwebs off the rafters in that stale congressional chamber. He'd wake em up. I swear - after all of these years of reading his letters and speeches, I can almost hear him, railing against this lobbyist corruption. He left a lot of quotes and letters -- its not hard to imagine what he'd be saying, and how loudly he'd be saying it, if only he were here today.

But we've got you Dennis. Thankfully, we've at least got you to speak for us.

UPDATE 5/26/2007: I can't find a video of his presentation in the House. This is the closest thing I can find... apparently, Dennis has been trying to get this news out for a long, long time.

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Former U.S. attorney Iglesias tells Gonzales to 'Cowboy up,' and step down

Fired U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias wrote a scathing opinion in the LA Times, calling for the Gonzales to 'serve the people' and resign, before a Senate vote of no confidence.

WHAT HAPPENS in a presidential administration when loyalty, to borrow a phrase from "Star Trek," becomes the "prime directive"? What happens when its all-encompassing fog obscures all other values — such as fealty to the Constitution, the rule of law or simple humanity?
Using crisp and terrific vocabulary - I'm not often treated to words like "shibboleth," or phrases like "loyalty uber alles" - Iglesias went on to blast Gonzales and the Bush administration for its adherence to blind loyalty over basic ethics, honesty, in the case of an ailing John Ashcroft, human compassion, and of course the law.

Will he "cowboy up," as we say in New Mexico — that is, find the courage to do the right thing? Or will he make the Senate go right up to the precipice of a no-confidence vote?
Well, at least its good drama... reminds me of a movie. I remember now, it was called "A Few Good Men." Wasn't the role of that brilliant young lawyer played by Tom Cruise based on the life of... David C. Iglesias? Perhaps he would be a legitimate choice for our next 'Attorney General'... when the blood and dust finally clear.

A few good men? The Justice Department is apparently in need of a total overhaul of 'good men,' and 'good women.' But they can start with one.

read more | digg story

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The big cave

The "Neville Chamberlain Moment"

Yesterday, majority Democratic leaders caved; they lay down, rolled over in front of Bush, and played dead. Then sat up and told everyone in earshot that they had made 'great progress.'

Democrats gave up their demand for troop-withdrawal deadlines in an Iraq war spending package yesterday, abandoning their top goal of bringing U.S. troops home and handing President Bush a victory in a debate that has roiled Congress for months.

Bush, who has already vetoed one spending bill with a troop timeline, had threatened to do the same with the next version if it came with such a condition. Democratic leaders had moved ahead anyway, under heavy pressure from liberals who believe that the party won control of Congress in November on the strength of antiwar sentiment. But in the end, Democrats said they did not have enough votes to override a presidential veto and could not delay troop funding.

Um... excuse me oh great and powerful Washington Post... but why? Why couldn't they delay troop funding?

Senator Feingold (D-WI) seems to believe that Bush has plenty of money to run his war through the end of the summer, and that the only way to force him to negotiate is to force him to veto the same bill, over and over again until he realizes that you are serious. Feingold also says - and he was a Rhodes scholar, very bright man - that since Congress holds the purse strings for this war, the only real way to end it is to 'just say no' when Bush asks for more war cash.

Reid and Pelosi: you could have sent your pathetic little benchmarks back 2, 3, maybe even 4 more times. Your original cave (outright betrayal to those who gave you this majority) came when the bill was still in the House. Madam Pelosi 'discouraged' (read snuffed) a vote on the Lee Amendment, which would have redeployed our troops by the end of 2007, and restricted use of these war funds to attack Iran.

This was nothing more than insisting on constitutional and congressional oversight where a declaration of war is concerned. Congress is supposed to declare a war, not the president. The president is supposed go to Congress and officially ask permission when he wants to start a war. Obviously, this president has other plans. The Lee Amendment would have demanded that this basic role of Congress be respected in the case of Iran -- in exchange for the cash.

You call this hardball? You caved immediately.

Reid - you were once a professional boxer? Seriously? No wonder we've never heard of you. Was your modus operandi to walk out into the ring... and immediately lie down on the floor and concede defeat?

I've been comparing you to Neville Chamberlain for some time now, so I wasn't exactly floored when I heard Keith Olbermann use the same likeness, when describing the immensity of this cowardly betrayal. The shoe fits. If only we had a Winston Churchill waiting in the wings.

We need a strong third party, and we need one immediately.

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The Goracle finds his flow

I am watching the Goracle on Larry King right now, and I'm completely captivated. The man is, as we say, 'in the flow’… words pour out of him. He is completely at ease, strong, fiery at times - its no wonder everyone wants him to run now. He is finally, completely himself.

This is the real, authentic Al Gore, no longer the careful politician. He obviously cares greatly about climate change — enough that he has dedicated his life to changing our attitudes about it on a global scale. Especially in this time of rampant cronyism and partisan politics, it is refreshing - inspiring to see this kind of honest dedication and authenticity. I’d follow him anywhere. He’s real.

I believe him when he says he doesn’t plan to run for president. Why would he fall back into that trap? He’s changing the world right where he is. Why go back to being a ‘good guy in a bad system,’ when he can remain as he is now: a great leader on a global stage, making a real difference.

I can't wait to get my hands on his new book "The Assault on Reason." From what I've read of it so far, he goes right after those who would overthrow our Constitution, insert their own brand of religion into our democracy, and corrupt our system of government. In other words... he goes after Bush and Cheney and their entire cabal, and he does it with an intensity and fire we've all been waiting for. He's not doing it out of any partisan posturing... he's doing it because he honestly and authentically cares.

In the book, Gore is accusatory, passionate, and angry. He begins discussing the president by accusing him of sharing President Richard Nixon’s unprincipled hunger for power — and the book proceeds to get less complimentary from there. While Gore stops short of flatly calling for the impeachment of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, he certainly gives the impression that in his view such a move would be well deserved. He calls the president a lawbreaker, a liar and a man with the blood of thousands of innocent lives on his hands.

Most of Gore’s ire stems from, not surprisingly, the war in Iraq, a war that Gore opposed from the beginning. Bush, he writes, “has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack because of his arrogance and willfulness.”

“History will surely judge America’s decision to invade and occupy (Iraq) as a decision that was not only tragic but absurd,” Gore writes.

Now there is the leadership we've been craving...

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MSNBC Poll: Should Bush be Impeached?

MSNBC is apparently, actually conducting a live vote - right now - asking whether Bush should be impeached.

Seriously... I followed a link from another blog, and by God, there it was. There have been 469661 responses so far, and 88% say yes. Get out there and vote!

This is an amazing opportunity. A major mainstream media giant is actually ASKING our opinion about impeachment. Get the word out - we aren't likely to be asked again any time soon.


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Sick of oil gouging? Sign here!

Yesterday, gas prices hit the highest mark in U.S. history: higher even than the 1981 record. They may eventually hit $4.00 per gallon in parts of the country.

There is no obvious reason for this rate hike, other than rampant greed. The oil industry now does this every year, as soon as the travel season begins, while continuing to rake in record profits every quarter. They do this because they can; because there are two oil men in the White House -- and because no one has, until now, raised a finger to stop them.

Hearings begin today on H.R. 1252, a House bill that if passed, will make gas price gouging a federal crime, punishable by 10 years in prison. Pelosi has said she'll move the bill to a vote this week—if there is a two-thirds majority required to fast track the bill through the process.

If you're sick of gas price gouging, contact your representative immediately, and sign this Moveon.org petition asking Congress to pass the price-gouging bill:

Sign the petition

Rep Bart Stupak (D-MI), sponsor of the House bill said "In April ... crude oil was $7 a barrel cheaper than last year (but) gas prices were almost 50 cents a gallon higher. Clearly there's more at play than simply the world crude oil market."

Um, yeah. Shocker.

According to Moveon.org, in April, over two-thirds of Americans reported that their gas bills were causing financial hardship, with one third admitting that gas prices were having a "serious" impact on their families. Meanwhile, the top two US companies, Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco, announced a combined $14 billion in first quarter profits.

The Senate passed a price-gouging measure out of committee last week, and the House bill now has over 100 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Maybe we can get this done...

The oil industry is supposedly nervous (I'm having a hard time imagining this, but maybe... we'll see.) They've sent a full regalia of lobbyists to the Hill to stop—or at least weaken—these bills, and stall them so they never reach a vote. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry front group of more than 400 oil and gas companies, even threatened that these new laws could increase gas prices even more. Oh please. (Now if that isn't gouging, what is?)

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Poor Russ (poor us)

Russ washes his hands. I keep wondering when this guy is going to finally get completely fed up and become an Independent.

By the way, Russ actually posts on Daily KOS. Guess even Senators head to the Internet when desperate to make sense of this ongoing, national nightmare...

MAY 22, 2007
3:39 PM

CONTACT: Senator Russ Feingold
Zach Lowe (202) 224-8657

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
On the Iraq Supplemental Conference Report

WASHINGTON - MAY 22 -“Under the President’s Iraq policies, our military has been over-burdened, our national security has been jeopardized, and thousands of Americans have been killed or injured. Despite these realities, and the support of a majority of Americans for ending the President’s open-ended mission in Iraq, congressional leaders now propose a supplemental appropriations bill that does nothing to end this disastrous war. I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.”


And imagine... now they've even removed those annoying, 'toothless benchmarks!'

They rolled over. Completely. Pelosi and Reid gave Bush that 'blank check.' I'm sure he served them a nice banquet afterwards, in the Rose garden.

Oh, they threw in something about raising the minimum wage... like that is going to somehow make this OK.

Weren't they going to raise minimum wage anyway? When they were running for office last year, I distinctly remember them promising to get us out of Iraq AND raise minimum wage.

Its getting really hard to decide who is more corrupt these days; the GOP, or the Democrats we sent in to replace them.

Did it ever occur to them that this might seem, oh, a little disingenuous? That we may not have wanted to 'trade' something we were already promised, for a blank check on Iraq funding? Did Reid and Pelosi somehow forget why we gave them that majority last November?

My GOD these Democrats are weak. The GOP is corrupt beyond recognition, and the Democrats are weak and capitulating corporate pawns.

Depressing day.

Just to cheer us up even more, here is what we can look forward to during our next national disaster!

On May 9th, Bush released a new presidential directive appointing himself dictator ('disaster decider,' or 'crisis czar,') and of course, 'protector of the constitution' in the event of a national emergency.

Just one more reason to dread a disaster. Now I'm not sure which I'm more afraid of... the F-5 tornado, or W in my yard: with a bull horn, a maniacal grin and a bulldozer.

Protector of our 'constitutional government', huh? Yeah. Somebody had better hide the Constitution now - quick - in a place where he'd never find it (a public library would work.) You can bet that once the document was in his care, Rove or Gonzales would 'accidentally' spill their coffee all over it (or pour gasoline on it and burn it,) rendering it forever illegible... and open to entirely new interpretation!

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