Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nothing Unusual

There is nothing unusual about George W. Bush overriding the U.S. Constitution to increase power and control over money and life itself.

There is nothing unusual about George W. Bush protecting corporations over people.

There is nothing unusual about George W. Bush showing contempt and disrespect for the bottom 99 percent of the U.S. population.

There is nothing unusual about George W. Bush ignoring the rule of law.

There is nothing unusual about George W. Bush not caring about freedom and liberty.

There is nothing unusual about George W. Bush terrorizing his own country by promoting weakness, hatred, and fear of outside terrorism to accomplish the above. 

What is unusual is when all of the above statements come together in one act. It became clear this week when George W. Bush actually stated his intention to veto FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act designed to actually protect Americans against acts of terrorism, if Congress didn't also grant immunity for past criminal acts carried out by phone companies at the request of Bush.

Mind you, the FISA bill doesn't expire until August. So why is he throwing a tantrum about it now? Because the immunity for criminal behavior expired yesterday.

He's actually willing to create a greater threat of terrorism against the United States because he's not getting immunity for his business criminal buddies having broken the law at his command. He's doing it by telling (i.e. lying to) the American people by saying holding up immunity of these past criminal activities helps terrorists win, and. by golly, he'll actually help terrorists win just to prove it.

The Republican Congress made a big show of storming out of Congress (after the media had assembled their cameras, naturally) so they wouldn't have to do their job of checks and balances against their savior, George W. Bush. It also helped that they were scheduled to vote on contempt charges against John Bolton and Harriet Miers for ignoring Congress' orders to testify before them. Imagine - two reasons for Republicans in Congress to show their cowardice at one time.

And what was the law the corporate criminals broke the Republicans favor? They spied on American citizens, collected email, telephone, text messages, web activity, and every other bit of information they could find by peering into the private thoughts of Americans, recorded it, and refuse to destroy it or turn over this illegally-obtained information to anyone.

They stole our privacy and they don't want to give it back. But most of all, they don't want to be held responsible for their criminal activities - even it if kills us.

I can't believe this is what Americans wanted to vote for in 2000 and 2004.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Recent Abominations of the Radical Right

John McCain - Last November, John McCain sponsored an anti-torture bill that came up for vote this week in the Senate. McCain was tortured himself in Vietnam, and spoke out against torture until his meeting with Bush in 2003 when he emerged a Bush-loving neocon through and through. Still, in the interest of clarification, he pushed through this piece of legislation republicans widely opposed.

This week, John McCain voted AGAINST the exact bill he himself sponsored just a few short months ago. It's time to crown him the Pander Bear for not even having the courage to vote for his own bill because he wanted to prove that he, too, can be a pawn of the radical right.

Republican Gun Nuts - Six students at Northern Illinois died this week after a student off his medication for mental illness brought three guns - that despite his mental medical condition were legally purchased, owned, and registered - onto campus and opened fire on students. Here's a recap of recent similar incidents.

June 2000 - University of Washington, Seattle - Two dead.
August 2000 - University of Arkansas - Two dead.
May 2001 - University of Pacific Lutheran - Two dead.
January 2002 - Appalachian State School of Law - Three dead.
October 2002-  University of Arizona Nursing College at Tucson - Four dead.
May 2003 - Case Western Reserve University - One dead from a seven hour shooting.
September 2006 - Shepherd University shooting - Three dead, father and his two sons.
April 2007 - University of Washington, Seattle (again) - Two dead.
April 2007 - Virginia Tech University - 32 dead.
September 2007 - Delaware State University - One dead.
October 2007 - University of Memphis - One dead.
December 2007 - LSU - Two dead.
LAST WEEK - Louisiana Technical College at Baton Rouge - Three dead.
THIS WEEK - Northern Illinois - Six dead.

This doesn't even include the wounded or maimed for life. I'm only including colleges, not high schools or student shootings at malls.

Northern Illinois had a plan for this type of situation. It was implemented as well as it could have been, which means this was the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

So what was the radical right's response to this horrible tragedy?

THEY SAID THAT WE NEED TO GET MORE GUNS ON CAMPUSES. They said that if more guns were carried by more students, then that would solve the problem.

I can't believe this is what Americans wanted to vote for in 2000 and 2004.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

And now, fighting out of the blue corner...

Wow, what a difference a week makes. South Carolina and Florida primaries plus a debate by each party has defined the presidential race as no other week has so far. And next week may prove almost as significant with 22 states voting on Super Tuesday.

DISCLAIMER - I am currently a candidate for the office of Democratic State Central Committee in Louisiana - District 82 - to be elected February 9, 2008 in conjunction with the Louisiana Presidential Primaries. I have already been elected by default to the office of Democratic Jefferson Parish Executive Committee.

This past week saw the expected dropout of Rudy Giulliani on the republican side, and the unexpected dropout of John Edwards on the democratic side.

Giulliani, running for President of 9/11, came in a distant third in Florida. He spent more money per delegate earned (two in all) than any other candidate in history. John McCain’s slim victory over Mitt Romney gave him all of Florida’s delegates by the republican’s rule of winner-take-all. That makes McCain almost a sure thing as the republican nominee. He’ll likely sew it all up this week in the Super Tuesday primaries.

John Edwards’ problem was one of being ignored by the media at large compared to his more well-heeled opponents. Although it’s ridiculous in this or any other day and age to judge a candidate on the basis of race and gender, the media likely found it hard to consider the one white male among the final three candidates to be a candidate of change, and did not cover his campaign as much as it did the other two.

THE BLUE TEAM – the Democrats

Their debate Friday evening in Los Angeles was the greatest debate I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Never before have issues been really debated in such detail one by one. The night before, the four republicans spoke, at their request, for a reduced 90-minute session. The two democrats, on the other hand, sat and discussed substantively for the full two hours CNN wanted. It was seen by a record number of viewers.

Hillary Clinton – If she had a different last name, she wouldn’t be so hated by conservatives. The fact that republicans mention her so much more often indicates that this is the candidate they prefer to run against. In fact, she has voted with the republicans quite a lot. Clinton voted for the Iraq War Resolution, every Iraq funding bill, and the Kyl-Lieberman resolution on Iran. She voted for both Patriot acts and the nominations of Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Despite all this, the right-wing slime machine propagandizes her as a liberal. She’s no Mary Landrieu or Joe Lieberman type of democratic conservative, but she’s not that far off in many cases.

Her explanation for the initial Iraq vote is, “If I knew then what I know now,” but not ever saying it was a mistake. Clearly, it was a vote for Bush to invade and she wanted to stay on the popular side of the resolution.

On the other hand, Clinton has been unfairly judged for once having sat on the board of Wal-Mart. She did so at a time that Sam Walton was still alive and the theme of Wal-Mart was “Buy American.”

Despite a conservative voting record, Clinton brings some great strengths. She is still the front-runner in the campaign. Her name recognition and the backing of her spouse, a popular former president, is a plus. Neither she nor he will back down from a fight. She will not be “swift-boated” like John Kerry was in 2004.

Her domestic agenda is also stronger on healthcare where she realistically doesn’t promise universal healthcare in the first term, but looks to achieving that goal by the second. She stands for negotiating drug prices for Medicare and expanding electronic records and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Clinton is strong on her energy policy to cut tax breaks for oil companies (Exxon made $41 billion last year – an all-time record), and cutting their other subsidies.

On the minus side, besides being weak with her conservative voting record on Iraq, she also hasn’t gotten very specific on her economic platform. Instead, she has outlined goals and principles such as stabilizing social security, becoming more independent from foreign oil, balancing the budget, and returning to the tax structure of the far more prosperous Bill Clinton years.

Her immigration stance has also been conservative in calling for building a security fence with Mexico, but centering that by also helping undocumented workers find a path to citizenship.

She has oodles of money and has the delegate lead because she has the most “super” delegates, the independent ones not tied by primary and caucus voting to one candidate. In other words, that lead could reverse itself against her if the momentum shifts.

Barack Obama – The 20th century had three great orators – Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Barack Obama is the first great orator of the 21st century. He is electrifying in front of large crowds whereas Clinton is better in more intimate settings.

Obama and Clinton tend to be strong in different areas.

Obama spoke out against the Iraq war in 2002. He calls for combat troops to leave Iraq by March 31 and calls for a phased in redeployment to other parts of the Middle East to conduct counterterrorism operations.

He has specifics to his economic platform calling for tying the minimum wage to inflation and spending $250 million on public-private business “incubators” to help entrepreneurs create start-up companies.

On immigration he doesn’t back the republican proposed partial-fence. He wants more border patrols utilizing more advanced technology, and to require employers to verify workers’ immigration status.

On energy, he calls for a four percent per year increase in fuel efficiency and a “cap and trade” system. This gives industry the choice of cutting carbon emissions, or helping the country raise money for new energy programs. He backs increased research into nuclear programs, but stops short of calling for building new nuclear power plants. He wants 20 percent of America’s energy needs met by renewable sources by 2020.

On the weaker side, Obama’s healthcare plan is not universal, but it does call for reform to the private insurance market to promote competition in pricing and quality. It would have a national plan to insure those without workplace or private insurance, and guarantee insurance for children.

Domestically, Obama’s voting record has been slightly more conservative than Clinton’s. This, he says, will allow him to reach across the aisle to be more of a unifier. It may be a disadvantage, as a relative political newcomer, to take that stance. He is less experienced in tough campaigns than Clinton and may be less inclined to take the fight back against republicans when they begin smearing him. And his spouse will certainly not have the clout of Bill Clinton to help team up against attacks.

Obama leads Clinton in pledged delegates, truly has the momentum following a big win in South Carolina, and just raised more than $30 million in January alone so he, too, has oodles of money. He also has more donors from which to tap again than Clinton. Republicans don't speak as much about Obama leading one to believe they are far more afraid of him.

On the other hand, Obama doesn’t have Clinton’s name recognition; and, when the right-wing slime machine does speak of him, they love to emphasize his middle name, “Hussein”, and lie about his Christianity to appeal to bigoted, uneducated conservatives. Prejudiced Americans are also more likely to be anti-African American than anti-woman. Obama’s voters are younger than Clinton’s, an age group that doesn’t go to the polls as much as older voters. Obama also trails in large amounts to Clinton among Hispanics.

SUMMARY – Both candidates are brilliant, charismatic, and “alive”, especially compared to the republican frontrunner. Could they run on a ticket together? Yes, if Obama wins, but not likely if Clinton wins. I think she has Bill Richardson on her short list.

Just dropped out – John Edwards took an anti-corporatist position on the issues, and brought to the fore the issue of poverty by uniting the country into his populist message of “One America.” He was also the only candidate to make the rebuilding of New Orleans a central campaign issue. I did not expect him to drop out before Super Tuesday, but he decided to put the uniting of the party and the country before his own ambitions by allowing that big voting block day to help prevent a brokered convention. He spoke to both Clinton and Obama so they could assure him they would keep his central programs important in their campaigns as well. Both spoke highly of Edwards at the recent debate. Edwards has not yet endorsed another candidate.

I hardly knew ya' - Dennis Kuncinich was the most left-wing of the candidates, and made even less of an impact into this year’s race than he did in 2004. He has not made an endorsement, but in Iowa asked his supporters to consider Obama as a second choice.

Bill Richardson was the most widely experienced candidate (governor, congressman, ambassador, cabinet member) in the field as well as the only Hispanic. He has not made an endorsement, but is very close to the Clintons. Some feel his candidacy was for the Vice-President’s spot all along.

Chris Dodd and, especially, Joe Biden, were the older and more centrist candidates in the race, but didn’t excite many voters. In that way, they were the Democratic Party’s version of John McCain. Biden was especially intelligent in explaining Congressional votes since the democrats won a razor-thin, but non-veto proof majority in 2006.

Mike Gravell… wait, he’s still in it - officially. He has long since suspended campaigning, he just didn’t tell anybody. Apparently, no one noticed.

WINNER – Clinton has the advantage in Super Tuesday states, but Obama will keep this very close, generating enthusiasm and lots of money. If Obama does well on Super Tuesday, that may indicate a momentum shift he can ride to the nomination. A large voter turnout helps Obama. The surest prediction is that one of these two will be our next president. Democratic voters are far outnumbering republican voters in states that have already gone to the polls.