Monday, November 27, 2006

Bipartisanship is another name for date rape

Where did the Democratic "Leadership" get the idea that the election was a call for bi-partisanship?
This was a landslide victory for the Ds and would have been much more so if the electronic voting machines hadn't been rigged to shave points. It was a complete repudiation of the Bush/Cheney misAdministration, a real thumpin'.
Exit polls showed the largest majority (80%) of voters were concerned with corruption (specificity the K-Street Project) and the next largest issue (67%) was Iraq. Where were the Democratic candidates that pledged to work with the Thugs?
If anyone was sent a message to work with the other party, it was the Republicans that have methodically stacked the deck for a permanent one-party rule. Dems were elected to roll that back. How do you reach a bi-partisan agreement on that?
We elected Dems to STOP the Republican's ongoing crime spree, bring the thugs to justice and bring our troops home.
The only bi-partisanship we are looking for is Republicans coming to their senses and crossing the aisle to work on OUR agenda.
Politics has always been a team sport. Sometimes the teams are more focused, sometimes less. The Republicans have been very focused since the reformation after Nixon's implosion (and old age) took out a lot of the old guard. That team is cracking up somewhat as the Christian Right realizes how badly they have been used.
The Dems, with their broad base of constituent groups, have a much looser party discipline simply because of the diversity within the Party. In recent years, under the assault from the Right and out of power, Democratic lawmakers have not been able to prevent the Bush/Cheney gang from pushing through whatever it wanted with party line votes. The Rs controlled the committees and that determined what hit the floors of congress, oversight committees had no interest in investigating the misAdministration.
Now the Dems get their inning and if the Republicans want bi-partisanship, THEY have to cross the aisle.

Monday, November 20, 2006


A little side comment in an article on an AP/Ipsos poll showing Bush's ratings heading into Nixon territory, has me scratching my head, parsing each phrase: "The president recognizes that the American people are understandably concerned about the violence in Iraq, He shares their concerns but believes that our policy in Iraq must be determined by victory in the war on terror, not public opinion polls."
That is: The pResident knows Iraq is a blunder of major proportions, He knows that we are very unhappy with his blunder, but he's going ahead anyway. So much for democracy (this is the same message that we heard from Cheney last week).
But the real stumper is this:"...Our policy in Iraq must be determined by victory..."
What is Bush's definition of Victory? What's Cheney's? We've heard a string of disposable excuses for our invasion and each of them has melted away as soon as it is closely examined, but there has never been a clear statement of what a "victory" would consist of, that is, one that is based in reality (before Shock&Awe, Cheney and the NeoCons described a fantasy of maidens with rose petals and a spontaneous flowering of Jeffersonian democracy in Mesopotamia. That was dead before "Mission Accomplished").
We have piles of metrics describing our failure in Iraq: Violence is up, electricity is down, Unemployment is up, Water and sewer are still down, militia membership is up, women's rights are down and most telling, after almost 4 years, with 144 000 troops in country, we still haven't been able to secure the 10 mile road from Baghdad to the airport!
Most of the Iraqi People, most of our Troops, most of our Military brass and most of our Citizens want US out of Iraq. Most of the rest of the world warned US in advance not to go into Iraq, they have only become more opposed as this drags out.
Our invasion and brutal occupation of an Arab country with it's overtones of Crusade, have done more to radicalize Muslims all over the world than any group of extremists in the caves of Afghanistan and the Tribal Areas of Pakistan could ever dream of.
Our continued presence in Iraq and our escalating rhetoric toward Iran only irritate the wounds we've caused.
Someone (NOT Cheney or Condi) needs to sit down with pResident Bush and try to get him to understand a couple things. F'rinstance, no matter how much you want it, no matter how often you say it, there is no such thing as "Victory" in an occupation. That attacking Iraq was a huge mistake and cleaning up the mess we've made is going to be painful and expensive. That when we, the People, say that we want our troops OUT of Iraq and brought home, we mean it.
And we don't mean 50 000 troops concentrated on army bases and a fortress/embassy while we carpet bomb the rest of the country. We mean Stop the Carnage.
He's got to be made to understand that continuing to beat a dog with a stick isn't going to make the dog healthy again.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time to put the hammer down and go!
When Democrats take over the House and Senate in January, it's time to roll out the big stuff.
America just dumped the GOP agenda right where it belongs, in history's trashbin. The only bi-partisanship any of US want to see is when people who fell for the Thugs buIIshi+, see the light and come over to our side. We didn't fight all this way to now decide to stick with the Thugs bad plan.
We want change, Big Time.
We want our troops home, NOW
We want Habeas Corpus reaffirmed in Law.
We want Posse Comitatus Reaffirmed in Law.
We want the Geneva Conventions reaffirmed in Law.
We want the Fourth amendment reaffirmed in Law.
We want the people that lied us into an unwinnable disaster to be held accountable.
We want the Crony Corporations that looted our Treasury held accountable.
We want the corrupting influence of Lobbyists and their money eliminated.
We want to trust our Vote.
We want fair treatment and decent pay for workers.
We want ultra-rich people and corporations to pay their share.
We want basic healthcare for everybody.
From these dozen core issues, here are a dozen simple, direct bills that would deliver on the promises of Election '06, that would force Bush to either veto basic American values or sign his own arrest warrant, that would solidify the Democratic Party as the Party of the People.
Start with a simple one-sentence bill: No one may be held for any reason, by any officer, agent or contractor, without access to a court of law and legal representation.
Another simple one: The United States Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Intelligence Agencies may not be called up to make war on, or spy on Americans in America. The Coast Guard and the National Guard are to protect our nation and our coasts.
Another: Torture is never permissible. Mistreatment of any kind of prisoner for any reason is elevated to a federal crime. All prisoners of war, "Unlawful combatants", or whatever cute name they are using this month must be accounted for and released. Guantanamo and all of the covert detention facilities must be closed.
And: Any infringement of people's rights of privacy in their communications and possessions must be warranted by a court.
Despite the Century old canard, Corporations do not have the rights of People. They don't die, they can't be jailed for crimes, they can't even be put out of business as punishment. Since they can't be held ultimately responsible, they can not enjoy the rights and privileges of Citizenship. Negate Buckley vs Valeo while we're at it.
These five simple pieces will make very clear what we stand for and what we are up against. They undo some of BushCheney's most serious assaults on the Constitution. Forcing W to veto the basic principles of our freedom will isolate him and his gang.
And that will make the rest of this easier.
A congressional demand for a date certain for our complete exit from Iraq coupled with tying any more funds for the (SoCalled)WarOnTerrrrrrr to cuts in lower priority Pentagon spending (Star Wars or the f22, for example). No more emergency supplemental, the war is DOD, goes on the DOD budget, zero sum.
Raising the minimum wage and undoing the Kentucky River decision (redefining "Supervisory position" to cheat workers out of overtime) are the bare minimum that working people can expect, a roll back of the Alternative Minimum Tax and restoration of Corporate, capital gains and estate taxes would rationalize the tax code (and guarantee Working peoples' support for the Democratic party for the next half century). Repeal of the Draconian Bankrutpcy bill will blunt some of the assault on the Middle Class that we've experienced over the past decade or two. It would also be a good idea to stop subsidizing businesses that outsource jobs overseas with tax breaks.
45 million Americans can't afford the greatest healthcare in the world. For those that can, the cost is three times the price for their care compared to any other industrialized nation. American companies are at a disadvantage in international competition, in part, because the cost of healthcare for their employees and retirees is higher than the cost of materials in their products. Expanding Medicare to cover everyone in the country with basic medical care, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug and medical equipment prices and removing the huge corporate profit margins by eliminating the need for private Insurance will bring excellent medicine to all Americans and bring much needed relief to American Businesses.
Meanwhile we investigate.
The lies that led US into Iraq must be brought out and exposed to the sun. Thousands of people have died, thousands more are wounded and none of the reasons we've been given have been true. There are so many people involved in the illegal wars and criminal detentions that there really ought to be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we cannot afford to sweep this fiasco under the rug like Watergate or Iran/Contra, we must put a stake through it's heart this time.
Henry Waxman has a running start on the corrupt war profiteering by Halliburton, Bechtel, Custer/Battles and a host of others, you can be sure, the taxpayers are going to enjoy finding out where their $40 billion went missing.
John Conyers has already held hearings on Election Problems, both the technical side and the political dirty tricks aspects, there's lots more where that came from.
Campaign Fundraising, Election spending, Earmarks and Lobbying all meet in a particularly greasy neighborhood of DC, K-Street. And since Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff fine tuned the money machine to favor the GOP almost exclusively, this would be a great time to dig into that particular cesspool. It will devastate the Republican Party and if there are dirty Dems that go down, so be it, good riddance.
Nearly every committee in congress could find malfeasance to investigate and once the results start to show, Impeachment, not only of Bush but Cheney and a double dozen of the primary players, becomes inevitable, with indictments following close behind.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Money and Elections

This is what is called an Off-Year election. A minor election for 1/3 of the Senate, all of the House and a bunch of Governors, but no President. And yet, the campaigns and outriders together spent over $2,600,000,000, that's 2.6 BILLION dollars!
Where did that money go?
Where did that money come from?
The answer to the first Q is simple; It went to Television ads. (disclaimer: I don't have or watch Tv, so on this I rely on testimony of others who do) The last few weeks have been wall to wall political ads on most every channel. That's a huge influx of cash into corporate coffers.
Where it comes from is also pretty simple: it comes from contributors, usually rich people and corporations. By the wheelbarrow load. Despite contribution limits. And that begs the Q. Why?
Well, that's simple too. Contributors are betting that the candidate will win and will remember them when the contributor is in front of them in their official capacity.
See? Simple. It's got other names, too: Bribery, Graft, Corruption...
Sometimes it works the other way around, that is, the candidate extorts money from potential victims of his committees. Either way, the massive fundraising for running campaigns distorts the process that follows the election, that is governance. As Molly Ivins says, "you gotta dance with the ones that brung ya".
What to do?
Not so simple.
Before anything else can be put into effect, we've got to make one thing clear. Corporations are not humans. They are fictive entities composed of humans, but they do not have the rights of actual, individual humans. Corporations are taxed differently, they can't register to vote, they aren't subject to the same penalties for crimes. A corporation "lives" in many places at once, including across international borders.
It is an instrument designed to shield it's constituent owners and operators from responsibility. A corporation that kills 12,000 people because fixing the valves at a chemical plant would hurt their profitability can not be put to death for those murders. A corporation the steals millions or billions of dollars from our treasury can not be jailed, taken out of circulation to prevent them from committing more crimes.
Due to a clerical summary to a Supreme Court case, Santa Clara vs Southern Pacific Railroad, in the Robber Baron Era (not the decision of the judges, but a spinning of the summary by a biased Court Reporter) corporations have been claiming human rights throughout the Twentieth Century. Coupled with that, the Buckley vs Valeo decision equates money with speech, as in limiting the amount of money one donates to a cause is the same as limiting what you may say in favor of that cause. You see the flaw there, right?
Individuals can't yell loud enough to be heard over the roar of the corporations' megaphones.
We need to make a legal case that makes clear that corporations are NOT persons and do NOT enjoy the rights of people, that corporate money is NOT protected free speech.
Whether that is brought about by Initiatives or State Legislators or through the Courts, that is the necessary first step to straightening out the mess we're in.
Step 2. We, the People, own the airwaves. Tv and Radio rent bandwidth from US (at ridiculously low prices) and they make, literally, fortunes off of them. Cable is a regulated monopoly, licensed by US. They all have in their lease agreements, obligations for Public Service Announcements (PSAs), basically advertising public interest info, unpaid.
If we insisted that all political advertising be in the form of PSAs that the Media were obliged to run, allocated on a proportional basis to all candidates and limited in number, events like Debates would become much more valuable for informing voters. And the cost of campaigning would be reduced to travel expenses and printing signs.
Outside, 527-style "Issue ads" that benefited one candidate or one party, one corporation or industry sector, would be considered as bribes (see below). Groups like the SwiftBoatLiars and NAM that have huge financial resources can not be allowed to drown out the discourse.
The obvious result here is that by eliminating the obscene expense of Media in a campaign, we reduce the amount of fundraising needed and that's good because:
Step 3. Is that the Taxpayer (that's US) must pick up the tab for elections.
ANY money, gift or service offered to a sitting politician is a bribe.
Elected officials must completely divest themselves of ALL ownership shares and/or options, public or private, of any companies they hold. No Blind Trusts or Mutual Funds or Offshore Ownership or any of those tricks. The Representatives of the People can not serve Wall Street and US simultaneously.
Maybe that eliminates a small number of very rich people that can't afford to take a job that "only" pays $250 000/Year, so be it. Millionaires are over-represented, currently, working people are unrepresented.
By the way, Job Offers are bribes of a sort, too. Many of the Bushies came into regulatory agencies from the industries that they would regulate, formulated regulations that profited those corporations mightily then quit government to take lucrative jobs at those companies, lobbying the agencies and committees that they had previously sat on. It may be a delayed bribe, but it is a bribe nonetheless. The revolving door needs to have a two year cooling off period in it.
Under Public funding, Incumbents receive Treasury funds to finance their campaigns. Challengers that are not in public office can raise private funds, but they are matched for the incumbent dollar for dollar. When both candidates are ineligible for private funds (e.g. one is incumbent and the other is an office holder) or if the challenger chooses not to raise outside funds, there is a formula for an equitable public funding of both candidates. If we want representation, we have to be willing to pay for it, otherwise, politicians will represent those who help them get in.
In Modern America, this almost amounts to a vow of poverty on the part of those who would govern US. It ensures that greeedy people move on after a term or two. That the people who stick with it are highly dedicated people who can live modestly.
I've got to say something about Lobbyists here. Lobbying arose from people collaring their congressman in the Lobby and pleading their case. It's now a huge and very slimy business. To a great extent, the Lobbying firms of K-Street are conduits of cash from rich special interests to congressional and bureaucratic staff with various degrees of quid pro quo attached. This didn't appear overnight, it's been growing since the 80s, but the current misAdministration and Congressional "Leadership" have developed a synergy with K Street that has turned the US Treasury into a cash dispensing machine for well connected companies.
If public officials can not accept so much as lunch, K Street will be boarded up.
Then we will have taken the money out of politics and taken our Nation back from the Thugs that have brought US so low.
There are several other election reforms that would make our system a "more perfect union": Instant RunOff Voting is one, Direct Election, that is: not via the Electoral College, verifiable paper trail voting machines with open source, publicly owned software, making Election Day a holiday... but all those are for another article or two.