Friday, August 29, 2008

What She Is and What She Isn't

This good point from my friend Melissa Hefferlin, on Palin: "In considering the McCain choice of running mate, one marvels at the more qualified, more senior women he passed over in order to choose Palin. What she IS perhaps makes sense for him: a woman, heavy on family values, hard-right conservative, oil-aligned, young, pretty, perky in a really annoying way (sorry, it slipped out). However, I am insulted that McCain finds genuine qualifications utterly beside the point, and believes that women like myself (white, 40, middle class), or anyone, would be placated and seduced by a V. P. candidate choice of anyone from my gender, never mind that she has been in politics for about six seconds, with a background in PTA. This choice is terrifying in what Palin is (ferociously white and right-wing), but even more so, in what she is not. This choice is insulting to the office, and to the voters. At least I hope it is.
Melissa Hefferlin

More On Palin: The Next Bridge to Nowhere?

Didn't expect to see this in the Dallas Morning News!

"Five reasons why Sarah Palin is a laugh-out-loud choice for VP. It's one thing for millions of voters to put forward a sitting senator as a possible commander in chief, but for John McCain to hand-pick a first-term governor of a tiny state is bizarre. Here are five reasons why, if she is the pick, this is a huge mistake." More
A little background from the Alaska Daily News:
"During her first run for mayor, critics complained that Palin, at 32, was too young and inexperienced. The Wasilla mayor was a full-time, $68,000-a-year job. They objected to a quiet campaign by some Palin supporters raising emotional issues like abortion and gun control, which had no apparent tie to municipal politics.

"And they said that by posing for ads with the area's Republican legislators, who implied they could work better with her than her opponent, she was injecting divisive party politics into what was technically a nonpartisan race.

"The high-profile support from local Republicans was hardly surprising, however. Party officials say Palin was already being groomed for bigger and better things, even as she talked about sewers and road-paving projects. In Alaska's fastest-growing region, Palin was the fresh young face of the suddenly dominant Republicans." More
And then this, from Mudflats, a Palin hometown blogger:
"Just months ago, when rumors surfaced that she was on the long version of the short list, she was questioned if she’d be interested in the position. She said she couldn’t answer “until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day. I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here….” More

Sarah Palin: Mother of the Year

McCain's nominee for vice president is sure to speak to kitchen table conservatives, Americans whose entire known world is family, football, and faith. These are good people. I know them. And as they've demonstrated in the last two presidential contests, they are dangerously naive people for whom the most important credential a politician can bring is that he's just like us.

For them, it's not just any family, it's heterosexual family. It's not just any football, it's home-town football. It's not just any faith, it's born-again bumper-sticker good old time religion: white, Protestant, and fundamentalist.

Palin speaks that language fluently. In her first speech to a world awaiting some reassurance that she has a clue about the gravity of the issues awaiting her, she chose to devote ninety-five percent of her remarks to laying out her home-town girl bona fides. I felt like I was watching "Big Love," that scene where Barb makes her pitch for Utah Mother of the Year.

This morning I contacted an old e-mail acquaintance who lives in Alaska to get her take. She said that Palin doesn't miss a trick and is scary. The scary part is that she's shot up the ranks of the GOP from nobody to AK governor in a political nanosecond, all on the strength of her connections and charisma.

It will be tempting to dismiss her as a lightweight and a pretty face. That would be a mistake. McCain (more realistically, GOP kingmakers) didn't pick her because they thought she'd lose.

In the coming weeks, keep one thing front and center. There's not only small awareness of it; more important, there's not even a scintilla of concern about the wider world here. There's not only scant exposure to how others might see our common humanity or solve our collosal problems; as her acceptance reveals, there's a phenomenally smug certainty that different strokes and complex deliberations are just not all that relevant in her world, soon to be our world if she's elected. We're talking about many shades of white, here.

Palin brings no knowledge to offset McCain's acknowledged weakness in economics, no experience whatsoever in global affairs, defense, security, and emerging global crisis spots. She brings less than no concern for looming environmental catastrophes, fond as she is of that epic sport, airplane machine gun v. wolf. And she brings basically no acquaintance of the hugely diverse human species. She's a forty-something bit-part mayor of a small Alaska town just now in her first role in statewide government, and already up to her ears in controversy for a serious alleged abuse of power.

However cute she might be, however good a mom she is, however charismatic she seems, and however skilled a politician she is, Sarah Palin brings but one thing to this campaign.

Like John McCain, she brings an overweening ambition that's more than ready to place its selfish apetites ahead of the national interest. This is the unmistakeable message in her acceptance of John McCain's cynical offer of the vice presidency, an offer as disturbing in its foolishness as it is dangerous for the planet and its inhabitants.

This nomination speaks of unbridled ambition utterly unmodulated by self-awareness or good judgment. Like John McCain, she is only too ready to feed her ego at the expense of the needs of a nation, a world, in crisis.

He Nominated WHO????

Are you kidding me?
Sarah Palin?
Sarah Palin??
Sarah Palin???

This is John McCain's first presidential act?

Can you see this woman running the country?

Let's be sure to put the aspirations of John McSame before the interests of the country.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

John McCain and Real War Heroes

Do I respect John McCain's service?

I respect the fact that he served, and I respect any POW because his or her service was by definition a term in hell necessitated by our country's decision to go to war. It was a term endured on our behalf, unwillingly but nonetheless endured.

However, I have far, far greater respect for my late Air Force pilot uncle, a colonel who was one of the two pilots selected during the Korean War to fly into Chosin Reservoir and bring out the frozen bodies of 300 American Marines. I never knew about that until three years after his death.

I have far, far greater respect for my late Army Paratrooper father who lost his eye in North Africa, and whose unit, the famous 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, was the first and much decorated combat paratrooper force of the US Army in WWII. He didn't talk about his war experience. He screamed in nightmares regularly, but he didn't discuss The War.

I never, ever even once heard my dad or my uncle mention their service, much less brag about it, or milk it from dawn to dark to advance their personal ambitions, or use their wounds of war to justify some later behavior.

For them, war wasn't something to be bragged about. War's suffering wasn't something to be cheapened by throw-away lines on late-night talk shows.

My father and my uncle didn't demean their military service by selling it for high office. It wasn't something they invested in for a later return. It was simply answering duty's call. It just wasn't for sale.

War wasn't something a self-respecting man thought appropriate ever to discuss except in private, sequestered alone somewhere with other wounded warriors, far out of our hearing. For my dad and my uncle, serving in wartime was a thing made sacred by agony and blood; it was a far, far too noble thing for common consumption.

This is the difference between heroes and honorable men, and men like John McCain.

Pumas and Bigfoots and Loch Ness Monsters

Is there more than one "puma" or is this a media-invented pehnomenon? So far, I've only seen one actual woman who is promising to vote for McCain because Hillary didn't win the nomination.

I'm hearing all kinds of crazy explanations for why a woman who voted for Hillary would be mad enough to vote for McCain now, but none of it makes the slightest bit of sense to me.

I'm even one of that generation who thinks we're about 235 years overdue to elect a woman president, and yet somehow I don't hold Barack personally responsible for Hillary's losing the primaries! Duh.

Even if I did, I wouldn't now turn around and vote for John McCain. That would be like joining Vegetarians for Burger King, or signing up with Log Cabin Republicans, even.

No sane Democratic woman would ever support the Neanderthal the GOP is planning to insert into the White House this fall. This is not a brilliant observation, I know, but it's all I've got, so I'm clearly missing something vital here.

Ideas? Somebody clue me in. I can think of no reason why a disappointed Hillary supporter would vote for John Mccain. But I need to understand what kind of insanity has befallen that poor woman so that if there actually are others, we can take some of it and make a vaccine.

Don't It Make Ya Proud?

Tip o' the hat to Michael for this reassuring example of Bush's Homeland Security goons at work:

"Jason Haist's arrival in the U.S. was a complete accident. After nearly drowning in rapids on the Niagara River, he [and a friend] washed ashore on American soil, where he was promptly informed he faced charges for entering the country illegally and could be detained for up to three weeks while officials try to determine his intentions."
The jet ski accident happened after Jason had contacted the US Coast Guard to determine whether it was legal to make his proposed trip. I'm sure all terrorists do that.
"Jason Haist, who was put on an IV drip after having fluid pumped from his lungs, said he could hear a border official using a walkie-talkie outside his hospital room.

"'He was on machines all night,' Kerr said. Haist was discharged from the hospital around 3 a.m. and arrested shortly after.

"'He told them, 'I almost died. I didn't plan on washing up on your land,' Kerr said.

"The men will remain in custody at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility until they can appear before an immigration judge.

"'They're here illegally,' Ciliberti said, because they turned up at an unauthorized point of entry, a U.S. customs violation. It doesn't help Haist's case that he didn't have any identification in his wetsuit. All he had was his boater's card, Kerr said.

"Ciliberti said the pair received notices to appear before a judge and explain their circumstances. If they choose to cancel the notice to appear and return to Canada voluntarily, Ciliberti said, 'you're admitting you're in the States illegally.' And if they don't appear, they will be deported and denied entry to the U.S. for at least five years.'"
Hit 'em where they live. I'm sure they're dying to come back.

As far as I know, they're still in detention. The moral of the story? Just don't have a near-drowning experience near our shore, buddy.

Other than that, I really don't know what to say.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"No Way, No How, No McCain!"

Hillary gave the best speech of the convention so far, and in terms of her assigment, it was nothing but net! Hillary was never better, never more gracious, never more the leader than tonight.

A thermo-nuclear world riven by fundamentalists of several stripes; wars of choice and profiteering; a planet sick from human greed; a nation hemorrhaging from the blades of big cars and big oil; a government careening toward a politics of final solutions; a people being deliberately underpaid, underprotected, and undermined. These are a few of the bigger stakes.

She brought us all right back on track: It's not about the personalities. It's about the policies.

Hillary brought the energy back to the party. Now let's get going.

Two Can Play Swiftboating

This isn't a conclusion I come to easily, but I've come to it reluctantly. It's time for Democrats to do their own swiftboating. I don't see America responding to anything but destructive campaigning. If that's the new standard, then there's not really an option if we want to win. We didn't make the rules, but we are going to have to play by them just the same.

The secret to effective swiftboating is to punch the fear button and the trust button. It won't do to pass along just any old gossip. The playing field underlying this stuff is the unconscious, where the demons play.

I want to see a knock-out punch, and I want to see it now. As the GOP is fond of saying, a bully only understands one language. Maybe if we speak it back, the Republicans will finally be motivated to leave the sewer they fondly call home.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Real Men Hate Facts

I noticed that RWR found a reason to get his panties in a bunch at exactly the same moment he was asked to deal in verifiable facts. I've gotten used to that in the last 30 years. Fact is irrelevant in Rightwing World. And that's a fact.

For instance, before his parting tanty, RWR imparted his wisdom thus:

"Unborn babies have no rights in the Democrat platform. Children do not have school choice or the right to pray in schools in your platform. Union membership is mandatory in most states. You see us as limiting freedoms, and that's how we see you."

"Unborn babies" is an oxymoron. It ain't a baby 'til it's born. I'd have thought that given conservatives' passion for the English language, they'd know how to speak it. Zygote, fetus, baby: Words have meaning. When they are lifted out of their established meaning and hurled indiscriminately hither and yon, there's usually propaganda afoot. As in "unborn babies."

Children do not have school choice? Sure they do. All parents who are properly self-sufficient and take personal responsibility for themselves and their families can send their children anywhere. Isn't that correct, Mr. Personal Responsibility? Only, Democrats just don't believe that Republicans should force the taxpayer to fund someone else's school choice.

Chidren don't have the right to pray in schools? How silly! Of course they do. They and their teachers can pray at length whenever they like, provided they don't present their form of religion as official school policy. There's no law against children praying on school grounds. The law is about establishing a state religion. It was designed to give you and me equally both freedom of and freedom from religion according to our individual consciences. It's about respecting each other's rights to be Americans. But I know Rightwingers have a problem with equality.

Then this doozie: "Union membership is mandatory in most states." Really? Can you document that? Actually, 22 states have "right to work" laws that prohibit mandatory union membership. Google it yourself. I'm not sure what the other 28 have, but it sure isn't mandatory union membership! We can go over all the facts related to union history in America since Ronnie busted the Air Traffic Controllers (ask ATCs how they feel about their working conditions now), but the point is that RWR doesn't live in a fact-based world and he doesn't want to.

When he's pushed, RWR says facts are a matter of opinion. (Seriously.) Which brings me back to that dictionary of the English language thing. As cats aren't dogs, and bananas aren't canteloups, what is a fact and what isn't a fact isn't up for grabs. We can disagree about their implications, but facts exist whether we like it or not.

So my invitation stands: When RWR can show proof of the moment in time when the founders all agreed on correct interpretation of the Constitution, I'll consider modifying my position about whether we can ever know "what the founders believed" or should care.

The founders didn't believe in air traffic controllers, Internet access, antibiotics, and Harley Davidsons, either. Does that mean we shouldn't?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pico's Had His Portrait Painted!

World, greet Pico, "Desert God of Small Things" (a play on the title of Arundhati Roy's Booker Prize-winning novel).

Pico really is The God of Small Things, though this fact was only gradually revealed. He is portrayed here by his great friend and compaƱera, the very gifted painter Melissa Hefferlin, at his ceremony of investiture. He is shown being elevated before his diminuitive tribe to rising choruses of eeensy peeps and chippets. ("Investiture," of course, is metaphorical, for Pico has no vests. Or pants. Or blouses, stockings, shoes, or caps. Nor has he need of them. He will soon have a sacred bead, but that comes later.)

In keeping with ancient practice, Pico's full divine name is never to be spoken aloud, which is just as well because the part that may be whispered is Don Pico de Gallo de Guapo de Miguel Cristobal del Fuerto de Hernandez Alejandro y Raul Simon Salvador con Pedro de Jesus Quattro bel Canto de la Marquez Rafael Diego Kahlo la Maravilla del Frederico Yucatan y Octavio Esteban con Jose Vidal Paco de Reyes Maria Chihuahua del Milagrito de la Paz.

Pico, el Perocito Milagrito. He has many aliases.

Tiny Denizens All, your bantam guru greets you.

An Open Letter to Partur

Partur sent this comment yesterday to a post I wrote some time ago, called "Belatedly, AZ Republic Blasts Immigrant Suffering":

"Wow. I hardly know where to begin.

"First, I want to make it clear that I don't wish death upon any of the people crossing the desert in search of a better life. I admire that kind of determination- we all want that for our families, and death should never be a result of our efforts to do so.

"However, breaking the law should never be a part of that mission, either.

"With that in mind, I pray tell, what is the answer here? Whose responsibility is it to prevent this sort of thing from happening? Is lack of compassion really the issue, or is it the fact that the people who died crossing into Arizona made that choice and took that risk on their own? Why is it up to American citizens to open wide our borders and our pocketbooks for those who made the foolish choice to evade our laws in the first place? No one who upholds the sovereignty of our borders thinks these people deserve to die- believe it or not, we are capable of compassion- but we do see it as a natural consequence of MAKING THE PERSONAL CHOICE TO ILLEGALLY CROSS THE ARIZONA BORDER VIA THE SONORAN DESERT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER. It's like anything else in life- when poor choices are made, the consequences can be very, very painful.

"On another note, as much as I disagreed with your 6/17 post "Should This Man be Our President," it was good reading. Interpretation is tricky business. I try very hard to understand the liberal viewpoint and criticisms of the conservative movement, and it definitely helped me see how those opinions are formed. We may not see eye-to-eye on most things, but I appreciate your blog nonetheless!"
I'm answering Partur here because this dialog is too detailed to bury in comments to a months-old post.

Dear Partur,

First, thank you for writing and for your kind comments. Second, please excuse my typo in my brief "redirecting" comment at my original post. I know your alias is Partur, not Parfur!

(1) Tragically, there's a huge "data divide" separating conservatives and progressives on this and many other issues. Conservative commentators such as Lou Dobbs, conservative legislators such as AZ's Russell Pearce and CO's Tom Tancredo, and conservative websites such as Free Republic rely for immigration information primarily on ten organizations. All of them were founded by one man, John Tanton.

You can test this for yourself by noting the names of the organizations that Dobbs and the others cite or invite. Then you can research John Tanton and decide for yourself what to make of his enterprise. For instance, see what the highly regarded Southern Poverty Law Center has to say, for starters. Check its sources.

Check the righthand column on my blog, under "Heads Up." You'll find a number of immigration-related links. These are the data sources progressives rely on.
The chief differences are that the latter are not generated by organizations founded by one person, are regarded as nonpartisan and academically reliable, and report findings that are widely replicated by researchers in a large variety of institutions, including the President's own Council of Economic Advisors--hardly a bastion of liberal thought.

I encourage you to take the time to compare the findings of the two groups. It's not that Americans are "interpreting" the same data differently. It's that we're operating on two entirely different sets of data. (I don't know your background. If you've got a degree in any research-based field, you will know the basic rules for evaluating whether a given study by anybody is credible or not. If you don't know these guidelines, email me privately and I'll dig them up for you.)

(2)To say that immigrants "choose" to come here is like saying the people at the World Trade Center "chose" to go to work that day. It's technically correct, but only in the most restricted, grossly misleading, and self-serving sense. Please bear with me. I don't want to insult you, but you asked my take and I'm laying it out. I invite you to do your own wide and deep research to test whether I'm telling the truth or not.

On the one hand, Mexican and Central American low-wage workers are being forced out of their own countries by impossibly harsh economic conditions. On the other, US agribusiness, construction, meat packing, landscaping, roofing, hotel, restaurant, and other industries are still actively advertising jobs in the US, luring them here to provide a cheap and docile workforce. And so they come. These are facts, not opinions. We can dispute opinions, but you'll agree that it's insane to dispute facts.

Economic realities are what's driving Latino/a low-wage workers out of their own countries. If you haven't already, please consider reading informed critiques of NAFTA and other global "free" trade policies. I'd strongly recommend Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine for a general overview. It's well researched, carefully documented so that readers can evaluate her sources for themselves, and very readable. It's not "opinion." It's fact. (For instance, there's no rational question that the Chicago School of Economics exists, or that it masterminded Pinochet's 9-11 coup in Chile or that Milton Friedman is conservatives' all-time favorite economist, or that Friedman espoused what Klein says he espoused, or that what happened in Chile and the other laboratory countries she deals with actually happened.)

After The Shock Doctrine, it would be worthwhile to read critical exposes of Monsanto's genetically engineered seed enterprise and its effects on indigenous farmers in Latin America, the US, and Canada, just for starters. Also look into water privatization initiatives in 3rd World countries globally-- e.g., Bolivia. (There's a new book about about Monsanto that conveniently packs a lot of information in one source.) All this can be dismissed, of course, but pretending it isn't actually happening won't mean it isn't actually happening.

The point is that fair-minded people who live in a reality-based world dig into the causes behind illegal immigration, and consider who benefits from the status quo.

(3) For decades, US administrations of both parties have collaborated with US industries in several sectors to ensure a steady supply of cheap, docile labor. You know that's a fact. Why this goes on and who benefits is pretty obvious. I recommend a book called Nobodies, just for one tiny case study.

Yet at the same time, US immigration policy sharply restricts the number of slots open to low-wage workers from Mexico and Central America. Immigration policy is available online. See for yourself. Despite steady appeals from US business to increase the quotas, it doesn't happen. Therefore, the fact is that vast majority Latino/a peasants driven from their own countries and lured north by promises of green cards and good jobs can't come in legally. However, having gotten as far north as the border, they've then got two practical alternatives: go back to starvation, which they can't do and can't afford to do, or cross illegally. I know that if you were in their shoes, you'd do exactly what they're doing, which is why conservatives' moral indignation about this is so galling.

(4) Who's responsibility? Not the peasants', IMHO. They're caught between the corruption in their own countries and the corruption in ours and in multinational businesses. They can't control US immigration policy or stop global "free" trade. But to say that they "choose" implies that they have some alternative, when the reality appears to be that they don't.

To me, it doesn't take a vast empathic capacity to understand that nobody sane "chooses" to walk across the Sonoran Desert any time of year, let alone in the summer. This is obviously driven by sheer desperation. If you doubt it, talk with the Humane Borders people, and talk with some immigrants themselves. You'll then be in a better position to judge them. And you do have the option to talk with these experienced sources. You don't have to take my word for it.

(5) If conservatives and Rightwingers were as vocal, organized, outraged, and militant about, oh, say, drunk driving, the $billions fraudulently disappeared in Iraq, Medicare fraud, tax evasion, contruction companies that repeatedly ignore safe crane regulations, Wall Street thieves, crappy levee construction, Pentagon purchasing scams, wife beating, unsafe FDA practices, ignored mine regulations, and so on, I'd be a lot more persuaded by their concern over the lawbreaking aspect. I'm sorry, but I don't buy the crocodile tears of outrage, and even if I did, nothing justifies Postville, IA and what's going on here in AZ. Nothing. We're supposed to be civilized, democratic people who believe in much higher values.

(6) This belated fixation on illegal immigration: It's been going on for decades, even longer. Our cities and towns and we ourselves have benefitted from it and still do, or you can be sure that it would have been ended. So why the sudden frenzy?

My conservative paratrooper WWII fighter father taught me to follow the money, never trust government, not to believe everythng I'm told, and do my own homework. My progressive mother agreed. So I ask myself whether there's any possible correlation between the explosion of for-profit privatized prisons that are reimbursed on a per capita basis and the sudden frenzy of immigrant roundups. It doesn't seem far-fetched to me. I ask myself whether there's any possibility that focusing America's attention on a pretty-much made-up crisis might have anything to do with diverting its attention from the systematic destruction of the US middle class. It doesn't seem far-fetched to me, and it sure isn't unprecedented. So, more suggested reading: Top Heavy, The Great Risk Shift, The Global Class War. We report, you decide.

(7)Last but not least, and with all due respect, the piety of US conservatives is profoundly disturbing to me. Not that you expressed piety yourself. To your credit, you didn't. But you will grant the heavy emphasis conservatives give to their reverence for Christianity, I'm sure. For that reason, even though you won't like it, I'm calling your side of the aisle on your own widely trumpeted "Christian" values.

See, to me, immigration directly calls up "do unto others," the Good Samaritan parable, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' repeated cautions to the pharisees about narrow fixation on legal technicalities, "if you do it to the least of these," and many other explicit Christian values I learned in church and at home from parents who were each the child of a minister.

The thing is, I was taught that these are meant to apply to real life. But from conservatives' and Rightwingers' behavior and writings about immigration, I gather that Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been far more influential in your lives than Jesus.

It's not that I think my side of the aisle is perfect. Not hardly. It's just that I NEVER see conservatives founding or staffing or supporting groups like Humane Borders. Instead, I see them slashing the tires of Humane Borders' water trucks (I can provide documentation) and threatening to kill "illegals." You know I'm not making that up.

I'm saying, among other things, that this is a hugely complex issue that takes a lot of time to research. It's not a question of rhetoric and pumped-up outrage. There aren't easy answers and the bad guys are everywhere, including us.

If it were up to me, I'd rengotiate NAFTA and all the rest of these disastrous trade pacts. Then I'd employ our vast economic, trade, and diplomatic power to force source countries' corrupt elites to create stable, fair working conditions for their people. Then I would ensure that US businesses adopt living wages and decent working conditions for ALL workers, both to attract native born labor to jobs they (sanely) won't take now AND to keep greedy corporations from playing off cheap foreign labor against US workers. I would go after what I consider to be predatory capitalism a la Monsanto and Coca Cola. Then I would enact fair, enforceable, and comprehensive guest worker programs, not the Braceros kind or the kind being proposed by Napolitano and other US governors now. (This is too complex to go into here. Do your own homework.)

Your mileage may vary, Partur, but one thing's for sure: You'd do exactly the same thing in the shoes of these immigrants and you know it. I wonder what that simple moral truth suggests to you about your own next steps.

Thanks for writing,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Warning: Bush's "New Rush to Spy"

As my high school English teacher used to say, "A word to the wise is sufficient."

In the hands of men who will forge letters, lie to the people about the necessity for war, close off government to the people's scrutiny, subordinate science to radical fundamentalist ideologies, create a private mercenary domestic army, grow concentration camps on US soil, frame immigrants in order to deport them, oversee innumerable lying smear campaigns against opponents, stage "town halls," and melt down the US economy for personal profit and for ideological goals, aggressive, expansive domestic spying is a blow to the heart of our democracy. Anyone who thinks it isn't being used for political gain and to create a police state is dangerously naive.

When I recall the outrage over Ruby Ridge and Waco, I have no choice but to believe that Rightwingers are fine with the atrocity of a police state provided they aren't the targets. This is just one more piece of evidence that the US Far Right is hostile to the core values of America. I'll change my mind about that when the Freepers cite the Constitution in support of minority rights and denounce illegal police-state operations with as much vigor as they denounce Jane Fonda.

Yeah, that'll happen.

More on the Recent Assassination of AR Dem Party Chair

You know, the one that barely made the crawl on nightly TV news. Well, don't miss this post, on Orcinus. Here's the lead:

"Right-wing violence and mental illness"

"Cujo359, whose work I respect, has posted a challenge to me for characterizing the assassination of the Arkansas Democratic Party chairman as 'starting increasingly to look like yet another case in which an unhinged wingnut decided to "take out" more liberals.' [Yes, this was an FDL [FireDogLake] post, but since FDL isn't the appropriate place to post a lengthy and detailed response, I'm doing it here.]

"Obviously, in a post titled 'Looking For Hate In All The Wrong Places,' this was not a characterization I made lightly. In fact, I'd had a backstage disagreement with Sara over whether this case qualified as a politically eliminationist act--at the time, I didn't think the evidence was in. But, after gathering more info, including my own sources, I decided the case was looking increasingly like a political killing."

Bookmark Religious Right Watch

From Religious Right Watch:

"The East Anglian Daily Times reports on Dr. Lee Marsden, Lecturer in Politics at the University of East Anglia, whose new book, For God's Sake, 'argues that the religious core values of Middle America have potentially disastrous consequences for both the United States and the planet.'"

He's right, except that the views of the Christianists are not universally embraced by all of Middle America, thank God. That's the good news. The bad news is that they are embraced by not a few of the most powerful men in Washington, including the President and four men on the US Supreme Court.

McCain, who earned my praise for denouncing the Christianists back when, did a complete U-turn this election in order to further his presidential ambitions. If he's installed in the White House, he will owe all to militant, uncompromising feudal Christianists who (seriously) believe that nuclear holocaust is a good thing because it will bring the Second Coming and that environmentalism is a slap in God's face because "He" wants us to exploit the planet. (And that's just for starters. After that? Old Testament-style theocracy, Talibanist views of women and GLBT folk, and of course white male supremacy.)

The combination of "owing all to" and "some of the most powerful men in Washington" is not a promising formula for planetary life.

If you aren't thoroughly familiar with the size, scope, wealth, power, and views of this dangerous extremist phalanx, and don't fully understand its hold on key US power centers, please: Get up to speed. This is the best site yet for that purpose. Check out the righthand column, link by link. Then you'll know what I've been yelling since the mid-80s: No, Virginia, they're not a lunatic fringe. They're the lunatic center who got into power because we were sound asleep.

A Year and a Week!

Happy Birthday, Wild Chihuahuas!

OK, so I'm wishing my own blog a happy birthday. Got a problem with that? Hey, I'm old enough to know it's wise to celebrate my successes, modest though they may be. I've made it for a year, learned some things about blogs and blogging, met some cool new friends, been invited to guest post on Citizen Orange no less, tweaked the format all by myself, thought through some stuff, had some fun, and come to adore Chihuahuas. It's all good.

Thank you all, dear and faithful readers. Thanks for being there, putting up with the glitches and the silences, cheering me on, giving us all more to ponder, and bringing me into your lives and onto your blogs. You rock!

Not least, thank you,! You're getting better and better!


A gentle reminder.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rightwing Ideology: The Other Bioterrorism

In their comments on "Why Would Any Genuine American Ever be a Rightwinger?" both AvenueFog and Morning Angel offered interesting observations. AvenueFog suggests that it comes down to perceptions of right and wrong. Morning Angel suggests that the answer lies in my post of June 17, "Should This Man be Our Next President?" I agree with both, but after having closely followed the rise of the Far Right in the US since the mid 80s, I see perceptions of right and wrong as only a small part of the story.

In earlier posts this week, I've offered some working definitions of "conservative" and "Rightwinger," and laid out the twin absurdities in the doctrine of "original intent"--i.e., that what the founders "believed" is knowable and matters. Read these if you haven't, because they will help make the following a little clearer.

Because we've undergone nearly 40 years of relentless on-message propaganda designed to discredit the great Liberal ideals on which the country was founded (fact, not opinion. See American Revolution, French Revolution, Enlightenment, etc.), and because W has directly attacked the Constitution many times and many ways in the last 7+ years, I say the Far Right isn't about moral positions. I say that the Far Right is the enemy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights themselves.

What the Far Right so dislikes is the fact that our Constitution explicitly empowers judges to correct legislative excesses and to interpret the meaning of the Constitution for each era. This Far Right's antipathy to constitutionally mandated judicial review is behind Bush's claim to a "unitary presidency" and behind the special pleading in that favorite conservative epithet, "activist judges" (special pleading means reserving for one's side that which one will not grant to the other. E.g., in the formula "only liberal judges are activist. Rightwing judges are never activist," highminded purity and adherence to the mythical "founders' intent" are characteristics of Rightwing judges alone.)

Why the antipathy? Because in the latter part of the last century, US Supreme Court judges have interpreted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in favor of minorities' claims to equality; women's claims to autonomy and free will; and the priority of the common good over the rights of the individual (as in environmental protection and gun control rulings). Liberals and progressives see these interpretations as the slow but steady march toward universal human rights. Conservatives and Rightwingers see them as full frontal assaults on white male supremacy and on the primacy of material possessions: property ownership.

Gay marriage, for instance, is a question of the constitutional meaning of equality--equal rights, equal protection under the law--a question of morality based on biblical interpretation, and a phenomenon inseparable from gender relations. Though they might not be consciously aware of it, Rightwing foes of gay marriage sense correctly that it destabilizes male supremacy. Let me repeat. It doesn't destabilize egalitarian heterosexual marriage. It does destabilize ideals of male supremacy and therefore those heterosexual marriages that reinforce male supremacy (not all do). How? Because homosexuality inherently demonstrates the fallacy of immutable social roles based on biological sex, it undermines doctrines of male supremacy and female inferiority simply because it exists.

Similarly, questions of the morality of homosexuality exist ONLY within a religious context. Therefore, legislative and judicial findings of the equality of LGBTQ persons to heterosexuals will inherently run afoul of fundamentalist belief. When they do, the Constitution itself guarantees advocates of LGBTQ equality of person, equal protection under the law, and the right to be free of somebody else's religious dogma. Unless Rightwingers can replace 230+ years of legal tradition with nonsense about "original intent" and "judicial activism," there will be legalized gay marriage. It's just a question of time. Ergo, gay marriage (equality for LGBTQ persons, actually) is among its top priority issues.

What I'm saying is that Rightwingers are fundamentally opposed to universal equality. That's not to say that some aren't also sincere religious fundamentalists whose objections are "faith based." It's to say that there's no daylight between fundamentalist religion and secular fundamental belief in white male supremacy. They are of a piece. Show me a form of religious fundamentalism that isn't profoundly sexist and racist, and I'll modify my views. Until then, I rest my case.

This thumbnail sketch of what I see as the nature of the division in America (actually, it's in many ways a global division, too) ought to suggest that the Far Right is not interested in compromise or bipartisanship. It isn't. As arch-winger Grover Norquist famously remarked (it's interesting that he chose a violent sexual metaphor) "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape." (An aside: That we are in a mortal war about sex privilege is underscored when the Far Right attempts to smear its opponents with questions about their masculinity or heterosexuality. If you doubt it, linger awhile on the Free Republic website and pay attention to the language. Or listen to John McCain's "jokes." (Follow the rhetoric, find the target.)

The only things that stand in the way of US Rightwingers intent on imposing their social, political, and economic doctrines are the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That is why I do not believe Rightwing ideology can ever be consistent with the ideals that make America uniquely America. Our nation was born out of and is forever grounded in the great Liberal ideals, making who we are anathema to the Far Right.

Unfortunately for us, Bush 43 has inflicted a series of grave wounds to both (separation of church and state, equality, balance of powers, consent of the governed, privacy, etc.). Harsh and demonizing Rightwing propaganda since the 1970s(and Rightwing media control, of course) has muddied the water for a goodly number of Americans.

We're dealing with the breakdown of an ancient, heavily layered problem formed of a mix of secular and religious socio-cultural ideas better suited to a time when male physical power made all the difference between a village's life or death. When that's no longer the case, anxieties about role and meaning can and do amplify to the point of hysteria. (See The Chalice and the Blade for a more nuanced version of this analysis.)

One thing is clear: One way to deal with anxiety of crisis proportions is through sumbolism and surrogates: domestic terrorism (illegal detentions and spying), permanent predatory wars of domination, "legitimized" torture, and money, sex, idealized violence (extreme fighting), rapacious environmental practices, and WMD as avatars: the economic, social, and foreign relations ideologies of the Far Right. They're the other bioterrorism.

Scary, isn't it?

Get busy. The US Supreme Court is on the line in this election, and as it goes, so goes the nation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Co-POW Warns Against McSame In White House

From AlterNet, and I'm betting that this won't be on your evening news:

I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button
By Phillip Butler, Posted August 21, 2008.

"A fellow Vietnam POW of McCain's warns of the candidate's 'quick and explosive temper' and suggests McCain is exaggerating his imprisonment.

"John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States."

A favored technique on CNN in the run-up to the Kerry-Bush contest was to show the swiftboating of John Kerry as a news item ostensibly about swiftboating and/or as a question about the effectiveness of swiftboating and negative ads on the voters. Either way, the cover allowed CNN to trash Kerry without accountability. We're seeing the same approach now regarding negative portrayals of Obama.

I'm willing to bet that unless bloggers force this story up the flagpole, we're not going to see it at all. For any reason. Under any cover.

But if we honor war heroes, shouldn't we honor Phillip Butler? If we trust war heroes, shouldn't we trust Phillip Butler? If we're concerned about stability in the White House--God knows we should have learned to be by now--shouldn't we hear what he has to say?

Sure. But CNN, MSNBC, FOX and all the rest aren't concerned about any of that. They're concerned about keeping the coffers of government open to oil, big business, and wealthy families of influence--whether American or Other (as in Saudi Arabia and Mexico and elsewhere). That means electing a Republican. Integrity in government, doncha know.

Conservative v. Rightwinger

Maybe it would help to define my terms.

I'm not sure everyone would agree, but my perception is that there's a continuum on the Right, just as there's a continuum on the Left. To wit, I see a huge difference between conservatives and Rightwingers. Because I see a fundamental regard for the Constitution on the part of genuine mainstream American conservatives, I generally respect them. I think of conservatives as Eisenhower, Bush 41, and Billy Graham--even Goldwater up to a point. We disagree, often profoundly, but we play by the rules and are more oriented to the common good than to any ideology. Compromise is possible, and one's religion is not to be imposed on anyone.

I think of Rightwingers, however, as Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, David Duke, Joe McCarthy, John Birch, Dick Cheney, Bush 43, Pat Robertson, and Karl Rove. Each without the slightest doubt openly disregards the Constitution and Bill of Rights and systematically seeks or sought to undermine them. The rules are Christianist-Corporatist Right uber alles, and all is fair in love and war. It's this crowd whose views and values are not consistent with our founding (defining) documents. And if they're not only consistent with, but also actively seek to dismantle the only things that make an American uniquely American, then how should I evaluate them politically?

This is the crux of the issue for me. I'm no more comfortable with Rightwing extremism than I am with Leftwing extremism, and for the same reasons. At some point that continuum makes a circle and joins ends. At that point, the mechanics and ends--justify-means fanaticism of Nazism and Maoism, of the Weather Underground and Timothy McVeigh really are indistinguishable even if the ideology and rhetoric differ.

What the Founding Fathers Believed?

Let's take this discussion about how any genuine (constitutional) American can be a rightwinger one bite at a time, for clarity and sanity's sake.

Responding to my post asking that question, Rightwing Reader (RWR) said this:

"Ok I'll bite. We obviously have very different views of what the founding fathers believed. For instance, they did not advocate for gay marriage, comprehensive welfare, social security, lack of personal responsibility, unions controlling schools, abortion, flag burning, open borders, experimentation with embryos, euthanasia, high taxes and a slew of other things. The reason I am conservative is that I believe in what they believed, staring with the right to LIFE, then liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
OK. Groundrules: We will remain civil and we will provide citations for assertions of fact. These are the rules, because without civility and without a solid and shared set of data, we'll soon end up in a hailstorm of useless accusations that harden the divide.

RWR, let me clear up a couple of things from the get-go. I didn't address "what the founding fathers believed" for good reasons (see following). I discussed the Constitution and Bill of Rights. So, no. We don't disagree about "what the founding fathers believed." We do disagree on appropriate policy for a variety of problems, and I disagree with your presentation of (I suppose you'd say) liberal positions. That said, it's not my intent or mission to change your mind about social policy.

Your comment about "what the founding fathers believed" is based on this assumption: that it can be proved that somewhere, at some time, all the founders expressed unanimous agreement on how to resolve all the issues addressed in the Declaration, Constitution, the Amendments, and the Bill of Rights, and on how the words in all these documents were to be interpreted forevermore. This is the conservative doctrine of "original intent." Debate about "original intent" has been with us from Day 1. It's not a new invention.

The facts are these: (1) The founders did not officially preserve the proceedings leading up to ratification. This is a matter of record. That's mighty odd if they actually universally "believed" their "intent" mattered even greatly, let alone more than anything.

(2) Madison, who is to conservatives what Jefferson is to progressives, and one of the greatest of the brilliant minds of the period, actually "subordinated original intent to other considerations, as when he said that the sense of the Constitution would be found 'in the proceedings of the Convention, the contemporary expositions, and, above all, in the ratifying conventions of the States.'" (Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution. Leonard Levy. McMillan, 1988. Pp. 5-29.)

Note well: For the greatest conservative mind of that era (and possibly since), the drafters themselves were not important. What counted were the RATIFIERS: the conventions of the States themselves. The reason is clear: it is the will of The People, as expressed in the acts of ratification, that makes these documents sacred to Americans.

Madison is also on record repeatedly noting that the meaning of the Constitution would emerge in discussions of The People over time. (Ibid., 21) He wasn't thrilled about that, but he knew that such is the nature of human language, life, and experience. This means that to Madison, The People are the "founding fathers." If you think--or think Madison thought--that The People agree on anything always and forever--possess original intent, we'll, we'll have to disagree.

[Correction: I had inadvertently left in the word "didn't" in this sentence when I originally posted it. It has now been deleted.] As to change, these brilliant men clearly did realize that the future would bring changes in technology, circumstance, science, common attitudes, etc., that would affect how The People would interpret the founding documents. Because they realized that, it seems clear that they also realized that the founding documents would necessarily be interpreted differently over time, in light of new circumstances affecting The People. Surely that's not arguable.

So: We know for a fact that the only things the founders agreed on was to sign the documents they drafted and to present them for ratification. Even then, many had reservations, which we know based on their letters and other writings. This is a matter of record, but for proof, I cite The Federalist Papers and also The Anti-Federalist Papers. There was wide disagreement even about ratification!

What they wrote about what they believed and thought (two different things, mind you) was sometimes unclear and confusing, as was how they lived their lives. Moreover, many of them are inconsistent between their writings and how they lived. Which of those would you say should prevail in an attempt to prove "what the founders believed"? Contradition, confusion, lack of consistency: Not surprising. They were human beings. To seek crystalline clarity and unanimity among them is to be bitterly disappointed.

What is significant is that they set aside their disagreements and reservations in order to sign the consensus draft Declaration, Constitution, the Amendments of their day, and the Bill of Rights and forward them for ratification. Therefore, these ratified consensus documents are what matter. Their personal "beliefs," other writings, and the history leading up to the ratification are interesting but can never provide the ultimate absolute unanimity and clarity that you imply.

The entire subsequent course of US law and legal theory is proof of that. It contains countless references to their disputes.

Some even warned us directly that their personal beliefs are irrelevant.

So, RWR, if you can point to the unanimous "founders' beliefs" document, signed and dated, of course, showing universal agreement on how all the words in all the core documents are to be interpreted, please do. Otherwise, refrain from basing your argument on the myth of what the founders believed. Because it is clear that whatever you or I say on that subject is only our personal interpretation based on what they wrote and didn't write. And my friend, as an American, my interpretation is as valid as yours.

Speaking both practically and philosophically, it doesn't matter what they believed. All that matters is what We The People joined together to ratify for posterity: The Declaration, the Constitution, its Amendments, and the Bill of Rights.

"What the founders believed"? Since there's universal disagreement among the founders, the concept is misleading from the get-go. Ever since the core documents were signed, there's been disagreement among Americans about their interpretation. That, alone, proves that they are living documents whether we like it or not. We continue to argue them because we are free, and because we too disagree on best courses of action for all these weighty matters. As long as we're humans, it can't be otherwise.

I submit that you and I disagree on how to argue them as well as on what the outcomes ought to be.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why Would Any Genuine American Ever be a Rightwinger?

Yesterday's B-and-F with Rightwing Reader (see comments) reminds me of something I've been meaning to blog about for some time: What makes the average American take a hard-right turn?

All of us Americans grew up breathing the same constitutional air, with the same Bill of Rights, and the same cultural stories (I use the word in its large sense)about what America stands for, didn't we?

We are the Land of the Free. We're innately suspicious of government. We originated because of governmental abuse. We don't cotton to domestic spying, which we associate with Red Square and the KGB. That stuff's for the UN-free. Americans won't tolerate it. Freedom belongs to all Americans. It's our birthright.

All men are created equal. We know "men" means "people." All Americans are created equal. Well, OK, we might not be perfect, but we'll get there eventually because of our long tradition of believing that God created us all in God's image.

We have three branches of government because we don't want a king, we know that legislators make mistakes, and we need judges to balance laws against the intent of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We have 230+ years of legal tradition about what all that means. The idea that judges shouldn't play that role is anathema. It's why we created the judiciary as equal to the executive and the legislative.

We have freedom of religion. Quakers, Catholics, Baptists, and all the rest came here partly to get away from somebody else's idea of what religion ought to be. The last thing we want is an official state religion, because we know where that goes. Besides, no real American would tolerate anybody telling him or her what to think or what to believe.

Now, all this, and much more, is bred in the bone of Americans. So what can possibly cause an American, of all people, to turn his or her back on our founding values?

And more mystifying than that, what make any American think that today's generations--unfamiliar as we are with state oppression, inexperienced as we are in the reality of a state religion, innocent as we generally are (so far) of applied star chambers, domestic detention centers, systematic domestic spying, and genuine authoritarian rule--think for a second that we are wiser than the founders? Our founders experienced all these things, and for that reason, wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that have sustained us so well all these years. Our experience, and our education, are paltry compared with theirs. It's hard to imagine that we could do better at governing than they did.

I'm all ears. What offense in the last forty years was so great that it even conceivably justifies a revolution--think a 180-degree revolution--in the meaning of America? I'd really like to know.

Boundary Problems

Interesting controversy at the American Psychological Association (APA) about whether its members should participate in interrogation of military detainees.

Before launching into a vigorous defense or condemnation of the APA's August 20, resolution or its latest statement (August 16, 2008), persons interested in the issue would do well to read the background correspondence.

If nothing else, it shows that principled and reasonable people can be of two minds, and it highlights complex relationships such as those between law and psychiatry, and those between a nation's code of law and international law.

But to me, it comes down to this: It is not within a healer's ethical practice to monitor or refine or seek to ameliorate or participate in or plan or advise on interrogation techniques. As soon as the question is posed, the boundary safeguarding ethical healing practice has begun to be breached.

Let's make it clearer. It's not the job of a surgeon to monitor or refine or seek to ameliorate or participate in or plan or advise on interrogation techniques. Now we can see a key hidden assumption at work. It is that there exists some surgical operation that would fall within ethical medical practice if used in interrogation.

Clearly there isn't. Nor is there some operation in clinical psychiatry or psychology that would fall within ethical medical practice if used in interrogation. The concepts "interrogation" and "ethical medical practice" are mutually exclusive.

APA would be correct, IMHO, to ban any form of collaboration with interrogation on the part of its members.

This isn't a question of patriotism. Anyone who's mixed up about that needs to drill down and enquire whether there's any line he or she would draw if told to defend the country. If not, you're a sucker for manipulation who's standing on a banana peel at the top of the slope to Holocaust.

And that, in a word, is my problem with George Bush's notion of patriotism. Out of his notion of patriotism flow the unitary presidency floating above the Constitution and our Code of Law; illegal domestic spying; privatized detention camps unbound by any meaningful oversight; personal, private mercenary armies deliberately written out of the reach of military and civilian law; and, of course, the politics of swiftboating, to say nothing of torture, black holes, and renditions.

It's all of a piece. If there are no boundaries, there are no boundaries. It's straight downhill from here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Call it Cynical, But Call it Smart

Ran across this little pop-tart on Hullaballoo, along with a sophisticated analysis of US news viewers. Digby wrote:

"Here's James Moore talking about Karl Rove a few years back: 'He once told a consultant that we interviewed for 'Bush's Brain' that you should run every political campaign as though people are watching television with the sound turned down. And toward that end, you rely heavily on imagery and not very much on substance, knowing that if the President is photographed in a school of minority and ethnic children, and is interested in their future in that particular photo op, that people will trust that image. And they don't go beyond that image to look at his policy, which is signing the 'Leave No Child Behind Act' in a big, high-profile moment with Senator Ted Kennedy, and then gutting the heart out of that bill with the funding that he offers up for it."[Emphasis added.]

Wull, djes, we should.

I'll go even further. We should run every political campaign as though people understand only words of one syllable and couldn't find NYC on a map without Mapquest and a GPS.

Could somebody tell that to Obama?

Folks on the Left are operating in a time warp, a giant, persistent anachronism. We haven't transitioned to the 21st Century.

The notion that the "youth vote" equates to the future of American politics is about to be put to the test in a big way. The choices are: (a) it's correct; and (b) not hardly.

At the moment, I'm going for (b), on the basis of the BS about the cross in the dirt and the percent of Americans who still believe that Saddam had WMD, not to mention the decline of US newspapers and the number of people who think Grand Canyon was created in 6 days.

The anachronism? It's related. We think the majority of voters still read, think, and care. They know better.

Now, do we engage the voters where they live? If we do, is that cynical and exploitative, or is it smart, effective, and fair enough in the circumstances?

Short term, it's smart, effective, and fair enough.

But for how long do we communicate at the "See Dick Run" level (and I do mean "Dick")? And exactly how and when do we grow the public discourse to the next level, which I guess is "High School Musical"?

Dunno. Your turn.

Why Aren't More of You Commenting?

Thank God for the few of you who take the time to comment. You keep me sane. And honest. And thinking.

I want more of you. So I'm asking: Is it me or is it a problem to comment using Blogger's default commenting tools? Say something, somebody! Please! Let me know what I can do to get some dialog around here.

Land of the Free, Home of the Watched

Think about it.

The question of domestic spying isn't for bipolar debate. It's not an all/nothing or zero/sum question. It's multifaceted question, isn't it? It raises considerations about our national identity, questions of purpose and intent, issues of cost and benefit, both literally and philosophically, problems of government oversight and government integrity, questions of government transparency and questions of government secrecy, and considerations of the possibility of electoral freedom when the incumbent government has its eyes and ears everywhere.

Nor is it an issue to be looked at independent of other issues. What does it mean to have this kind of capacity and privatized militaries and an epidemic of detention centers? So exactly why is it "paranoid" for a red-blooded American to point out sinister triangulations like that?

Where is the point of diminishing returns in government by espionage? Who decides? When do we get to vote on this? How thrilled am I that China has 600 transparent cities, and do I want that kind of "transparency" here? Should it mean anything that the four cameras at that Scottsdale intersection gave me goosebumps? Is anybody else worrying about this?

They're All the Same?

"I wouldn't give two cents for all the politicians in Washington. It doesn't matter who we elect. They're all the same."

How many times have you heard that? Maybe you've said it yourself.

Well, here's my question: Is your viewfinder stuck on "Sex and Money"?

Excuse me, but if you think that, I have to ask: Did you OD on stupid pills?

No doubt about it, if you think Democrats and Republicans are "all the same" on disaster recovery, economic policy, renewable energy, global warming, social security, national security, public education policy, foreign policy, national security policy, government's regulatory role, gun control policy, job outsourcing, labor policy, export/import trade policy, environmental policy, civil rights policy, the status of women, interpreting the Constitution and Bill of Rights, immigration policy, tax policy, infrastructure, healthcare . . . .

Just how grave and extreme are our parties' divisions ought to be obvious. Even so, many still don't get that we've been living through a planned demonstration project in the conservative philosophy of government.

I'm not being partisan, catty, propagandistic, or rhetorical. This is fact that anyone can verify independently. Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and numerous other prominent Republican theorists and politicians will tell you so candidly. We're not talking about mere corruption. We're talking about destruction of government's potential through radical bankruptcy.

To get an overall orientation on this, see this piece (and don't be misled by the title or the sidebar). This is about two radically, diametrically opposite visions of America, and why "compromise" isn't in the cards.

I recommend giving this serious thought, particularly if you're inclined to see the election mostly in terms of national security. Important as that is, it's just one of enormously critical policy questions we're facing. The election will decide how we'll respond to our dying middle class, a warming planet, oil addiction and renewable alternatives, health care, retirement security, and foreign policy.

Read this piece. It won't take long, and it might help you frame the election question correctly, through the larger view.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More on Nailing the Left

Paul Krugman's August 17, 2008, op-ed "It's the Economy Stupor," illustrates absolutely perfectly the Left's--in this case, Obama's--bizarre lack of fire:

No, the problem isn't lack of specifics — it's lack of passion. When it comes to the economy, Mr. Obama's campaign seems oddly lethargic.

I was astonished at the flatness of the big economy speech he gave in St. Petersburg at the beginning of this month — a speech that was billed as the start of a new campaign focus on economic issues. . . . he seemed to go out of his way to avoid scoring political points. "Back in the 1990s," he declared, "your incomes grew by $6,000, and over the last several years, they've actually fallen by nearly $1,000." Um, not quite: real median household income didn't rise $6,000 during "the 1990s," it did so during the Clinton years, after falling under the first Bush administration. Income hasn't fallen $1,000 in "recent years," it's fallen under George Bush, with all of the decline taking place before 2005.

Obama surrogates have shown a similar inclination to go for the capillaries rather than the jugular. [Emphasis added.]
Shades of Al Gore, Jr.

W's catastrophes don't stop with the economy, either, as we know. The thing is, if McSame is elected, it will be because we Democrats ran another utterly inept campaign, learning nothing from Kerry's experience, and nothing from Gore's. And if McSame is elected, there will be no relief for the US middle classes, nothing will be done about renewable energy and global warming, and there will assuredly be nuclear war. He just can't wait.

If we can't get passionate over these issues, we are the living dead.

Nailing the Left

This is the only time in this life or the next that I'll agree with Grover Norquist. From Sourcewatch, this about about and from that arch-Right corruptionist, co-architect of the today's predatory GOP:

Norquist is famous for his widely quoted comment that he wants to shrink government 'down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.' Norquist largely rejects relativism and is comfortable assigning the labels of 'good' and 'bad'. The pledge of 'no new taxes' that so many Republican legislators signed was his project. He holds regular meetings for conservative leaders in which strategy is discussed. He once commented, "We [the Right] play for keeps; they [the Left] play for lunch."
So it seems.

Required Reading Before the Election

It wasn't incompetence. It was systematic and it was planned.

What's happened to us and to Iraq in the last 7+ years was also predictable and inevitable given what we elected. This isn't news, but unfortunately, some of us still haven't gotten the memo, hard as that may be to comprehend.

So it bears repeating.

Naomi Klein gave exposed the stinking anatomy of so-called "free market" (Chicago School) economics. Thomas Frank now comes to help us get our minds around what happens when we elect conservatives to rule.

Well, there's a relationship between what they say they believe (shrink government and then drown it in the bathtub) and what they do when they're in a position to govern (Katrina, crumbling infrastructure at home: $85 Billion to war profiteers in Iraq).

Read The Wrecking Crew and The Shock Doctrine before the election, especially if you think John McCain is your friend. He isn't.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Would You Buy a Brain from This Man?

He's not using his. (Photo courtesy of AlterNet)

Kyl, McCain, GOP Blowing AZ Jobs, Oil Independence

From Andrew Sullivan:

An absorbing the dizzying series of foreign policy challenges facing this president and the next, one factor obviously stands out. Oil - the damage it does and the tyrants it enables - is the great enemy, from Georgia to Iraq. Finding a way to get ourselves off this stuff is the most urgent national security need we have. Which is why this progress on solar power is so encouraging:

At 800 megawatts total, the new plants will greatly exceed the scale of previous solar installations. The largest photovoltaic installation in the United States, 14 megawatts, is at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, using SunPower panels.

Spain has a 23-megawatt plant, and Germany is building one of 40 megawatts. A recently built plant that uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight, called Nevada Solar One, can produce 64 megawatts of power.
And that, my pretties, is why Arizonans should be furious at Kyl and McCain. Not just for blocking solar advancement, which is why all Americans should repudiate them, but also for allowing their partisan fusion with Big Oil to imperil 2,000+ jobs in our state. As long as McCain and Kyl and the rest of the GOP hold renewable energies hostage to offshore oil drilling (to granting more of our offshore real estate to Big Oil, that is), AZ's impressive solar projects are on hold.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oh, and PS

This is why fighting the lies matters so much.

From Media Matters and the Washington Post:

"In an August 15 article examining the political opinions of young evangelical voters, Washington Post staff writer Krissah Williams Thompson wrote that one such voter is 'leaning toward [Sen. John] McCain because she shares his economic views and is afraid that [Sen. Barack] Obama will raise taxes.' But Williams Thompson did not also report that Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that 'Barack Obama raises taxes,' as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted.

"A recent analysis of the candidates' tax plans by the Tax Policy Center found that 'Senator McCain's tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes,' while 'Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers.'"

Kickin' Back

Earlier today, I posted about getting an email dishonestly contrasting Obama and McCain's tax policies. I said that we all need to stand up to this stuff. We didn't fight back hard in 04. We didn't take it all that seriously. Now, I hope, we know better.

Most of this e-trash comes to me via six or eight other sequential emailers who don't know how to forward without sharing every email address to which the post had previously been sent.

So I opened the Obama-McCain tax policy email, scrolled down to the bottom, and voila! There was the name and the business card of the guy who originated at least this daisy chain. I decided to write him and cc: everyone else. Here's what I said:

Hi ____,

Your reputation as a knowledgeable, honest money manager is important to you, right? Well, you might want to check out about the “facts “ in the email you're sending around over your name and business card. (Scroll down) Your post gives me the impression that you’re either a lousy fact-checker or a casual liar, neither of which makes me long to sign up with [your well-known securities investment firm]. I hope my impression is mistaken.

By all means vote your conscience, but at least vote based on facts.

In my view, fighting irresponsible lies and other propaganda from all sides is the job of good people of all political views, because lies just shove us all down further into ignorance, divide us bitterly, manipulate and distract us, and, little by little, create the character of the country we want our children to live in. They also lead us to make stupid decisions.

Your views may differ, but I doubt it. I think you, too, like me, don’t appreciated being manipulated, want to live in a decent world, among honorable people, making decisions based on reality, getting accurate news and information from people you can trust who respect your ability to think for yourself.

Do us all a favor: Fact check before emailing.
About an hour later, I received the following post:
Thank you for contacting _____ regarding a recent email regarding "proposed changes in taxes after the 2008 General election." Please know that [this company] does not endorse any political party, candidate, or initiative, and that our Firm did not endorse or approve the email as it is contrary to our Code of Conduct and Corporate Values.

Members of executive and departmental leadership in ___ Corporation and ___ Securities have been made aware of the email, and ____ has been dealt with appropriately and directly. Every effort has been made to ensure that no additional emails or communications of this nature will be issued by any member of our Firm.

We sincerely apologize for this unfortunate incident.

Assistant Branch Manager
Well, let's get some things clear here. I'm not a rat, and I didn't contact the firm. I wrote the sender himself, personally, at his work email address from which his post originated--the only address I have for him. How company officials got my email to him, I don't know. I guess they read employees' mail. And that's not my problem.

For the record, I wrote the branch manager back to that effect, expressing no intent to get the guy in trouble and my hope that he was "dealt with" gently.

But having said that, I'm just really not sorry this little incident percolated up through the ranks of a Wall Street investment firm. I hope it shook up a few people, and I hope it made them all think a little more carefully about what happens to reputations when liars and careless gossips get found out. Maybe people will be more careful. It's too bad, but if it takes this kind of kicking up a fuss to force us all to be more honest and better fact checkers, I guess that's what it takes. And I encourage you to go and do likewise. If you get a propaganda email, fight back. You never know what might come of it.

Your opinion? Would you email a bunch of strangers telling them politely to play nice? Would you mind if your complaint percolated up the ranks to somebody's boss? Would you feel guilty? Let me know your take.

So Much BS, So Little Time

Once upon a time, people didn't lie because they respected themselves. They regarded lying as the act of cowards and dishonorable people who, by lying, indicated their capacity to do other dishonest things.

Well that's done, huh!

There's this guy Corsi, who's getting free national press for filling two book covers with nothing but lies, sort of like Ann Coulter and Faux news. Sort of like McSame. Sort of like Limbaugh. Are we seeing a pattern here?

This morning I get an email purporting to compare Obama's tax policies with McSame's. Just as I thought, if it comes from the Right, it's probably gonna be a lie.

If you happen to get that post, be sure to answer it with this link from Snopes and something like these words:

"It's more of the usual dishonest crap from the Right. So. What I want to know is, will there be any consequences? Are you at all pissed off that they're lying to you and playing you like a flute, or are you just going to suck it up? And have you checked to see what else they're lying to you about?"
Don't take this stuff lying down. Fire back! Call a lie a lie, and hold your acquaintances, relatives, and friends accountable for passing on BS without bothering to verify it first. That's what Snopes is for. See its Politics and What's New pages, especially, and consider subscribing to its RSS feed.

There are numerous other news check sites, too, like Media Matters and You want to know the truth when you place your vote. Use these sites. That's what they're there there for.

No, this isn't just business as usual. This stuff kills. Lies about immigrants kill immigrants. Lies about "liberals" result in the shooting of state Democratic chairs. Lies about candidates deprive citizens of free choice and the facts that enable us to sustain democracy. Lies divide the nation bitterly, distract us from life-and-death problems we must address, and keep us all down, in squalor and ignorance.

Fight them actively or encourage more of same. Your country, your culture, your choice.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I'm so angry at John Edwards I could wring his neck. Like Elizabeth doesn't have enough problems? Like Democrats need this mountain to climb? What if he'd won the play-offs? What if he were sitting where Obama's sitting now? Can you imagine the chaos? Nice, huh? And if Elizabeth knew, as he said she did, then what was she thinking?

Right now I feel like fire-hosing the Clintons and the Edwardses.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

There's a Box

Findings of the federal mine “regulators” (I use the word loosely) are that those Utah miners weren’t killed by an earthquake after all. They were killed by their bosses. The mine operator chose to remove the columns of coal supporting the roof of mountain over their heads. Everybody knew this was coming. The bosses brought it on.

From the foremen on the line to the gentlefolk in the board room to the inspectors and the regulators to the administration that sets mine safety policy, the tacit consensus is, “It’s about our profits. Their lives are of no consequence.”

White-collar Americans are pleased to imagine that such murderous exploitation stops at the mine shaft and the factory door.

Not really. Linking the Utah mine murders to a tide of desperate immigrants to citrus-picking heat strokes to unaffordable health care to a tsunami of home foreclosures to the lies about global warming to Enron’s happy run of piracy to soldiers sans armor to Wall Street “bubbles” to vanished pensions to privatized water to outsourced jobs is the consensus that our lives are of no consequence. It’s all about their profits.

But this is the world we’re choosing. Translate slogans like “war on terror,” “over-regulation,” “let the market decide,” “big-government liberals,” “class warfare” or “socialized medicine” and find, “It’s about our profits. Their lives are of no consequence.”

Old women in Africa saw off their daughters’ clitorises with the lids of sardine cans. Old women in Afghanistan stone younger ones for adultery, real or imagined. It’s not only about the men whose status is thus secured. It’s also about the women who comply with them.

They accept that their welfare depends on their complicity.

It’s not that they can’t see outside the box.

They’ve forgotten that there is a box.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Of Comic Books, Immigrants, and Eternal Fascism

When it comes to describing the US as “an incipient police state,” there’s a frustrating, perplexing fastidiousness on the Left and in the mainstream.

“Incipient” means “beginning to exist or appear.” For some time in this country, the defining characteristics of fascism (a term that, in this context, I use interchangeably with “police state”) have decidedly begun to appear. Notable guardians of democracy such as Lewis Lapham have been warning us about this for nearly 15 years, their warnings amplified in the last seven especially.

If an exponential increase (a) in unaccountable police powers concentrated within the Executive Branch; (b) in the infrastructure, funding, and structure of these police powers; and (c) in their routine abuse by our highest authorities are any indication, we’re well and truly somewhere between “incipient” and “fully fledged.” To me, it just isn’t debatable.

All this is well known. For seven-plus years, national news media have reported on White House and telecommunications conspiracy to conduct widespread illegal domestic spying; on chilling (and still emerging) provisions of the cynically named “Patriot Acts”; on the “Endgame” plan to remove all “illegal aliens” by 2012; on the explosion of domestic concentration camps, euphemistically called “detention centers”; on the systematic political corruption of the US Department of Justice; on an Executive Branch that is contemptuously defiant of the Constitution’s requirement for balanced legislative, judicial, and executive powers; on massive, illegal government databases; on surveillance of perfectly legal, constitutionally guaranteed protest assemblies; on the suspension of our habeas corpus rights; and, yes, on the repeated human rights abuses inflicted by agents of our government on Latinos, citizen and noncitizen, under the guise of dealing with “illegal immigration.”

One has to ask: What more evidence can possibly be required?

Yet even now, while we still have a chance to root out these evils, the loud, irrepressible chorus of condemnations you’d expect from the Center and the Left is nonexistent. Where there should be calls for mass strikes and street protests, only a few brave souls are speaking out. With a few notable exceptions, even our most influential bloggers are pulling their punches.

For instance, after documenting numerous detention and deportation horrors, Joshua Holland of the widely respected AlterNet sees only the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration operation as an emerging police state. Apparently he’s overlooked the cold, hard truth that the mammoth DHS, which, like the CIA and the FBI, is under the Executive’s unilateral control, is just one of many troubling manifestations of fascism in US government operations.

Some I just noted. Others include Guantanamo, “legalized” torture in contravention of the Geneva Accords, citizen detentions by airport ICE agents without access to attorneys, Blackwater, privatized (and therefore virtually unaccountable) prisons, Abu Ghraib, the so-far uninvestigated and un-punished disappearance of trillions ostensibly for “rebuilding” Iraq, a country we occupied illegally and without provocation in the first place. And of course there’s the covering mist of endless media lies and distortions regularly documented and exposed by Media Matters and other vigilants.

All these things are happening, undeniably. Moreover, none of them is happening in a vacuum, and all of them are products of the most ideologically driven, rabidly Rightwing administration in US history.

Yet still there is this peculiar reticence to call an incipient police state just that. Where Holland sees only departmental fascism, Dave Neiwert, whom I respect enormously, won’t even go that far. He writes: “It's perhaps worth remembering that incipient police states always target the most vulnerable members of society when they start out. And in today's America, there are no people more vulnerable than those millions of workers here, for a human universe of reasons, illegally. That's not to say we are in an incipient police state, but the warnings are unmistakable--especially in tandem with the Bush administration's massive acquisition of previously unimagined executive-branch powers--and should not be dismissed blithely.” [Emphasis added.]

Warnings existed when Eisenhower nailed the military-industrial complex. Surely now we’re some distance past warnings?

Certainly Rightwing control of the media—both outright, as in Fox, and less forthright, as in CNN and CBS—is a dampening force for dissenters, as it is meant to be. Corporate owner interests ensure that our media not only shape public opinion but also lampoon the views of, and if necessary, destroy the reputations of those who dare to contradict their mantras. Clarke, Plame, Wilson, and now Ron Suskind (who reports that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter linking Iraq to Al Qaeda) are case studies in what happens to resisters these days.

So I suppose it makes sense that some prominent progressive opinion shapers--political candidates, TV and radio commentators, print editorialists, and bloggers alike—would be afraid to step off the designated path. It just makes sense that they’d fear running afoul of the White House and its media familiars and, consequently, losing even the modest persuasive power they possess in this concepts marketplace dominated by flags, fear, and money.

There’s a plague of holding back, as if we're all waiting for some unspecified second shoe to drop. But if it’s some sign of a strong, supportive, broad-based anti-fascist political consensus we're all hoping for, surely history shows that such a thing never emerges in time. How can it, when everyone of any moment is waiting for somebody else to speak first?

For what it’s worth, I have a theory. This reticence to name US fascism for what it is, and the impossibility of broad public consensus, happen because we dwell in a comic book. “Reality” consists of a given set of symbols punched out in stark lines colored in bold crayon hues. Nothing beside remains. In our comic book world, things that can’t easily be represented by a simple line drawing cease to be. What can’t be expressed in light-bulb commentary—the graphic equivalent of a 5-second sound bite—can’t be addressed.

The one arena in which we might all plainly see our new-minted US police state at work is immigration, but among the sound-bites written by White House flaks for flunkies like Wolf Blitzer, among the pandemic spores cooked up by professional racists and rained nightly on us by Lou Dobbs and Kitty Pilgrim, and given the banning of journalists from cattle drives like Postville, we only know what they want us to know.

We live in the immigration comics. This phenomenally complex issue has been colonized by a set of images which, in turn, establish the boundaries of our national debate. In the immigration comics, the villain is an imbecilic “illegal” here to finance his human trafficking sprees by drug-dealing and living off (our) “welfare.” If he happens to work in a packing house, well. Never mind. He’s a closet terrorist who taints what he touches anyhow. Besides, on his off time, he spawns anchor babies and rapes white women. America, land of pristine (white) purity, is being dragged into the sewer by (brown) Pedro. Hoards more like him are just waiting to crawl across (our) border as we speak. The only (sane) recourse is violence. This is war, and with war come prisons and police. This ain’t no time to play (stupid) all constitutional-like. Ergo, enter our heroes: the fascist Republican Right. Here it’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There it’s Tom Tancredo. Don’t worry: There are plenty enough to go around.

Synecdoche reigns. That comic book “illegal” and his law ‘n order opposite sum up the whole discussion, implying both all immigrants and the sole (rational) response. It’s a thought stopper. It’s meant to be. We can no longer see the immigrant’s humanity or our own. It’s all caricature, all two-dimensional, all binary, bipolar: Right or wrong, black or white, 010101010.

But the world doesn’t work like that, does it? Law isn’t always justice. Order is too often authoritarian abuse of human rights. More often than we’d like to admit, their crime was necessitated by ours first. Global “free” trade comes to mind. And earlier expropriations of other people's things.

While we are trapped in immigration comic book world like flies in amber, real-world immigration policy, in fact, has emerged concretely as the laboratory in which reigning US fascists are developing, funding, propagandizing, and refining the apparatus of a fully fledged police state. If you doubt it, read this. Read it all. You might not see it, but it's there just the same.

Here, eyewitnessed and in print, in cattle pens, in neighborhood midnight raids, in babies torn from mothers’ arms, in the nightmares of American children left behind to wonder what has become of their playmates, is the unveiling of a new American constitution. Here is the hellish stable in which the Antichrist is born. Its first targets, as always, are “the least of these,” but tomorrow, sure as sundown, its skinny arm will snatch up anybody it views as “undesirable.” You know who you are. No, the centre cannot hold.

Do you still doubt? Some have already observed the toll this fascist US immigration policy has taken on organized labor. If you’re not among them, go back and read the Des Moines press about the Agriprocessor ICE raids in Postville. Notice who wins and who loses. Notice the timing. Notice the effect of it all on nascent union organizing, the one thing that (as FDR showed us) can ever counter the conspiracy of business and the GOP. The losers? The five-foot-tall, dirt poor, two-bit workers. The winners? The profiteering extortionists, slave masters, and cheats who exploit those workers. They’re left entirely alone, free to continue to enrich themselves in flagrante delicto.

To the extent that we cannot see that this is essential fascism, we are both evidence and symptom of that engineered myopia I talked about a minute ago. Synechdoche reigns here, too.

Since the close of the Second World War, stark news reels, fiction, film, and political art have reduced multivariate fascism to two images only: the SS and the death camp. If we don’t see brownshirts or concentration camps, then, ipso facto, there is no fascism. If we dare to say there is, we’re tinfoil hatters, conspiracy theorists, playing politics with facts.

In 1995, Umberto Eco wrote of just this, in an essay published in The New York Review of Books called “Ur-Fascism.” Lapham says this about that:
Eco wrote to suggest that it's a mistake to translate fascism into a figure of literary speech. By retrieving from our historical memory only the vivid and familiar images of fascist tyranny (Gestapo firing squads, Soviet labor camps, the chimneys at Treblinka), we lose sight of the faith-based initiatives that sustained the tyrant's rise to glory. The several experiments with fascist government, in Russia and Spain as well as in Italy and Germany, didn't depend on a single portfolio of dogma, and so Eco, in search of their common ground, doesn't look for a unifying principle or a standard text. He attempts to describe a way of thinking and a habit of mind, and on sifting through the assortment of fantastic and often contradictory notions -- Nazi paganism, Franco's National Catholicism, Mussolini's corporatism, etc. -- he finds a set of axioms on which all the fascisms agree. Among the most notable:
• The truth is revealed once and only once.
• Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten because it doesn't represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader.
• Doctrine outpoints reason, and science is always suspect.
• Critical thought is the province of degenerate intellectuals, who betray the culture and subvert traditional values.
• The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies.
• Argument is tantamount to treason.
• Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear.• Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of "the people" in the grand opera that is the state.
Obviously, the strategy is working well. Why wouldn’t it? Circumstance after circumstance points to the probability that Karl Rove learned his craft from Goebbels. It’s not an original observation on my part. The parallels in method are shatteringly similar. Even a dimwit can see them.

It’s working even when we can see behind the curtain. The truth of Iraq was revealed but war ensued. The Executive—our Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding—says he owes nothing to the Legislative, and appoints the Judiciary. There is no global warming, we're told, but oh, there is. And, right, menstrual cramps can be healed by prayer. Women are free here, but women may not contracept and certainly may not abort. We are anti-terrorists and we do not torture, and you are either with us or against us. You get the drill.

The handmaidens’ choir sings on. You know them well. Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Savage, even (in a different register) Blitzer, Cafferty, Mitchell, and the late Tim Russert. After all, truth can be beaten to death or it can be obscured in a haze of none-too-penetrating questions. It can be copyedited. It can be driven out of town on the pen of a hack ad writer, the way it always is in political seasons. While the game plan is unfolding as intended, we’re listening to compelling 24/7 coverage of the latest little disappeared white girl, and Cialis commercials.

Their master's talking points disseminated, an obedient corporatist media blathers them one by one in the identical order and syntax, arrogantly contemptuous of our powers of reason and our capacity to see and hear the world as it is even when we'd really rather not.

War on terrorism? Nonsensical, but an effective rubric capable of keeping us on some front or other forever. Once again, because it evidently bears repeating: Illegal domestic spying. Blackwater. Guantanamo. Homosexuals want special rights. A plague of privatized for-profit detention centers sprouting all across the country, their obscene profitability ensured by an endless stream of “illegals” in fulfillment of an ominous “Endgame” that somehow never ends. Do you get it yet? No?Stage-managed presidential press conferences where tax-paying dissenters can’t come in. Where once a whole nation felt free to speak, now there are tiny fenced-in “free-speech zones,” thank you very much. A Justice Department populated with Rightwing monkey boys and monkey girls. Our national treasure re-routed to fascist cronies. A city drowned in cynical, engineered ineptitude to prepare a new, white, domestic tabula rasa, Shock Doctrine style. Now do you get it?

They even warned us. They even said, “We make our own reality.” “They won’t see us coming until they’re in the body bags.”

It’s all true. We know it’s true. Yet still we won’t say so, and if we don’t say so, how can we rally the truly brave, the genuinely patriotic, the ones who really do love their children and want the best for them, to resist?

What happened to our founders’ sons and daughters? Where did America go?