Saturday, May 13, 2006

You Can't Win a Fight When You Won't Open Your Eyes and Look at Your Opponent

Prior Aelred sent this Smirking Chimp article to me. You've got to go read it right now. Everyone in America needs to read it. The bottom line is that the Republicans have undoubtedly STOLEN the last two elections and the Democrats seem to want to just close their eyes and pretend that this isn't happening. Which, unfortunately, assures that the Republicans will continue to steal elections.

It makes people uncomfotable when you say that the Republicans are stealing elections. They act as if you've just farted, or just announced that you were abducted by aliens who kept you in a spaceship and made you bear their alien babies. The Republicans count on that.

The article notes that, "the Bush campaign was aided enormously in this thievery because their campaign co-chairs in key states were also the Secretaries of State -- that is, the officials in charge of conducting elections and certifying the vote results: Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000 (with brother Gov. Jeb Bush overseeing her work), and, in 2004, Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio, Terry Lind in Michigan, Matt Blunt in Missouri, Glenda Hood in Florida, et al." I've been saying for a year and a half that I won't give any money to any Democratic presidential candidates until the Democrats figure out a way to elect Democrats as SoS of Ohio and Florida. What's the point? So far, I can't see any evidence that the Democrats have made this Job One. They're now busy fighting over whether to give their money to DC consultants (NO! For the love of God, NO!) or local efforts in all states. As if this were going to be some normal election and we just need to figure out where to best spend our money. It's not and that's the least of what we need to do.

The article continues, "One can't escape the conclusion that the Democrats in general still don't know how to respond to cutthroat aggressiveness and criminality on the part of the Republicans. The Dems never knew what hit them in Florida in 2000, in Ohio in 2004 and don't really have their oppositional act together now in 2006, with the midterm election just six months away." This is what really scares me. And, I think it relates to my earlier post on integrity. People are afraid to admit that we're dealing with a group of out-and-out criminals who are willing to break all the rules, because admitting that forces us to face some scary questions about how to deal with those people. It takes us outside the realm of the known, where there are rules that work, and dumps us into an alternate, and frightening, new reality.
We're not going to just get better funded, better organized, and elect better people. I knew when I heard about the NSA phone database that these crooks NEVER plan to leave office. They would never create a tool like that and then turn it over to, say, Hillary Clinton.

I'm not sure what -- other than massive civil disobedience -- will work with the power-mad fascists who have stolen control of America. I am sure that continuing to squeeze our eyes shut and pretend that we're not dealing with a real crisis -- in short, continuing to do what we've been doing but hoping for different results -- will only result in more stolen elections.

In 2004, I hoped that Kerry could pul off a landslide and that a landslide would be more difficult for the Republicans to steal than the close election we'd had in 2000. I still hear people heartened by Bush's low poll numbers who hope the Democrats will pull off landslide victories this fall that will be too big for the Republicans to steal. I don't buy it. In 2000, they had to scramble to steal the election, get help from the SCOTUS (fuck you, Sandra Day!) Again: "One can't escape the conclusion that the Democrats in general still don't know how to respond to cutthroat aggressiveness and criminality on the part of the Republicans. The Dems never knew what hit them in Florida in 2000, in Ohio in 2004 and don't really have their oppositional act together now in 2006, with the midterm election just six months away."

The Democrats are the only hope we've got. We have neither the time nor the resources to organize a third party with any realistic chance of taking control. So we've got to wake the Democrats up, no matter how difficult a job that may be. I'm open to suggestons on how that might be done.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Invitation to the Barricades Based Upon a Realization of the Nature of Our Oppressors and the Need to Live with Integrity

T. Thorn Coyle always has something interesting to say, but this week, her posts keep resonating with things that I've been thinking about, especially within the overall themes of how we thrive in today's world. She says:

"I see that change is possible. Humans can deal with each other in forthright and adult ways, and have fun while they are at it. It is this signal I will follow, not the noise.

I mentioned to my homeopath this morning that my integrity is my only currency. She said it is the only thing any of us have. Yet humans support people and systems that have little to no integrity all the time. Why is this? What blinds us? Fear, greed and neediness."

It's interesting, because I've been thinking about the fact that it is the complete lack of integrity that makes the Bush administration and its supporters, both within the mainstream media and in general, so impossible to deal with. The recent Mary Cheney brouhaha is just one tiny example. She's gay, she's openly gay. She's made a good living off the very fact that she is gay and can supposedly help, for example, Coors attract more gay customers. Her father mentioned shortly before the Republican convention that she was gay. Yet, she and her mama are willing to try to make political capital and sell books by pretending to be highly offended that, when asked a question about gays (that never would have come up at all but for Republican pandering to an inflammable base of gay-haters) Kerry and Edwards mentioned that she was gay. No integrity. How do you deal with that? Kerry's fumbled it up until now. I think the answer may be to do something that liberals have been reluctant to do up until now: to begin to directly challenge these people's integrity.

And of course, Mary Cheney's only one small example in a tsunami of acts that simply reek of a lack of integrity: from the 2000 "election" to the misuse of 9/11 to lying us into an illegal, immoral war to robbing from the poor and the old and the sick to give to the rich to illegal spying on Americans to torture to secret jails with no due process to swift boating and planting kerned documents to polluting the air and calling it "Clear Skies," everything these people do is tainted by a lack of integrity. They don't even feel a need to be consistent; they're happy to claim today that impeaching a president would be the end of the world when just a few years ago they impeached Clinton over a blow job. Kay Bailey Hutchinson got caught recently asserting that lying isn't an impeachable offence, although she'd said the exact opposite about Clinton. Debbie Howell will continue to lie on the pages of the WaPo about whether Democrats were beneficiaries of Abramoff's bribes, even when it's been clearly shown that that is not the case.

Which brings us back, I think, to Ms. Coyle's question: If our integrity is our only currency, the only thing any of us have, why do we support people and systems that have little to no integrity all the time? Why is this? What blinds us? Coyle answers: Fear, greed and neediness. And perhaps she's right. Particularly about the role that fear plays in this process. In particular, I think we are afraid to simply announce and be forced to act upon the fact that we are dealing with people who have no integrity. We're not talking about differences of opinion, about people of good will honestly disagreeing about legitimate policy differences. We're talking about the fact that we're dealing with people -- the people in charge of our government and the largest most powerful nation on Earth -- who lack all integrity. It's an extreme statement to make and liberals have become too terrified of being called extreme, fringe, wacky, dirty hippies, tree huggers, kooks. So it's that fear.

More, though, there's a fear associated with what happens once you admit to yourself and announce to the world that your opponent lacks all integrity. Our system of democratic government, with its checks and balances and respect for diversity, is based to a larger degree than we often recognize upon the premise that even our opponents will act with integrity, that everyone will play by the rules. Once that's no longer the case, when you have a large group of powerful people who refuse to follow any of the rules, our democracy doesn't really provide the tools to deal with that. We can't vote them out of office when they have their fingers on the Diebold hard drive. We can't convince our fellow Americans to vote them out of office when they have blackmail dirt obtained by illegal spying on key members of the media and their bosses.

So, what do we do? How do we thrive when the entire system created to allow us to thrive no longer works, when it's been infected by a complete lack of integrity? If the first part of the answer to that question is to always behave with integrity ourselves, what does that mean in this new world?

I can't remember now where I read it, but I saw something on the web a week or so ago about a woman who attended a political debate where the Republican began by refusing to disavow ads that were clearly dishonest. She said that, on reflection, she wished that she hadn't sat quietly, following the moderator's rule that audience members not ask questions. She wished she'd stood up and announced her objection and refused to sit down until the Republican did the thing that integrity would have required him (or her, I just can't remember) to do. Maybe that's the way we ourselves behave with integrity when dealing with those who have none.

But it's only part of the answer. I think the other part is to acknowledge that we're living in a new world and that new solutions -- possibly involving mass civil disobedience -- are going to be necessary. That's scary, but dealing with the fear that brings up may be necessary in order for us to thrive. Sometimes, a forest fire is necessary to clear old growth and allow new trees to grow. Sometimes, forest fire is the only way for the forest to preserve its own integrity.

I'm not saying anything original. In fact, some guys with long hair said it very eloquently over 200 years ago:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Suppose Grown Ups Acting Like Grown Ups Would Be Too Much To Expect/

Via Witchvox, comes an article about the sons of a serviceman being kicked out of the Boy Scouts for being Wiccan. It's 2006 and this is America. For the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The article reports that: "The number one scout law is to do your duty to God and your country," Troop 71 Scout Master Gene Doherty said. "They met to discuss whether or not the boys could live up to that because of their religion."

The conclusion was that they could not.

Doherty called Army Cpt. Todd Buchheim, the boys' father and a former Eagle Scout stationed at Fort Polk, to inform him that the boys no longer were welcome in the troop. The Buchheims said Doherty told them that if Cody had lied about his faith, the boys could have remained with no problem."

Does this sound like the sort of thing we'd like to model for our children? I swear there are days when i think Americans have the emotional age of a retarded twelve year old, but that would be unfair to some retarded twelve year olds I've known. So many of the problems we have in this country could be solved if people would just start to act like grown ups.

The freaking point of the meeting was religious diversity! And when they got religious diversity, the grown ups -- not the kids, but the grown ups -- freaked out.

I'll leave aside why any self respecting Wiccan would have their kids in a gay-hating group like the scouts. This weekend, the cutest little nine year old came up to me at the grocery store parking lot selling something for the boy scouts. I said, "Sorry. I won't donate to any group that excludes gays."

I swear, America, grow the fuck up. Because when you hurt yourself, I will laugh.


One of the smartest people I've ever "known" has started a blog. You must add it to your daily list.


From today's EEI newsletter: "Real Time Power Prices in Boston Area Top $1,000 per MWh

Data from ISO New England showed that electricity prices in the Boston area spiked to more than $1,000 per MWh and averaged nearly $900 per MWh for several hours on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Neither ISO New England nor area power plants knew the cause of the spike.

Traders guessed the price jump was likely due to either transmission or generation problems. Wrote the newswire: 'A spokeswoman at ISO New England, the grid operator, said that despite the high prices (which remained over $1,000 for several minutes) the system conditions were normal and no emergency procedures were in place.'
Reuters , May 9."

Monday, May 08, 2006

In Which Your Humble Blogess Plays Cassandra

Starting to see a number of Republican fundraising appeals that warn that if the Democrats seize control of Congress this fall, they will impeach George Bush. That's interesting. I wish I had their faith in the Democrats. They can't be doing this because Bush is so popular. In fact, as I noted last week, conservatives are beginning to move away from him in droves, claiming that he's never "really" been conservative. So I'm thinking it's a bit of a time bomb being planted in case the Democrats do retake Congress and, even less believable, grow a real spine and punish Bush.

They want to be able to say, "See! We told you so! Those hate-filled Democrats, attacking our president "in a time of [undeclared] war! They should be focused on other priorities!"

Which, coming from the folks who impeached Clinton over a blow job, is going to be pretty damn rich.

Get Her! She's a Witch!

Via Witchvox comes this report of attempts to curtail attacks on those suspected of being witches in India.

Some excerpts from the article: "Recalling the trauma she faced, Ramani narrates: 'I was tortured and forced to eat human excreta just because I was branded a witch by the ojhas (witch doctors).'

Today Ramani is not alone in the fight.

Vaisakhi, another survivor, says: 'It is a blot on our society. We have to face such inhuman torture even in this 21st century. It is a shame that when women have reached space, we are subjected to such horror.'

Vaisakhi, in her 50s, had also been brutally beaten up by a villager, who branded her a witch.

There are scores of women who have been branded witch by villagers and tortured. Many were killed, sometimes by beheading or dismembering their limbs.

Many like Ramani Devi are forced to drink urine or consume human excreta. Some are ostracised and thrown out of their villages."

We like to think that persecution of those thought to be witches ended long ago. It didn't.

Anne Johnson has a report of xians lined up to yell insults at pagans and others who dared to gather for a festival in the US this weekend. Can you imagine the coverage if a bunch of pagans lined up outside the Baptist church and hurled insults at the Baptists as they waited to go inside?