Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cause and Effect

Just a quick update that further illustrates my point about what happens when you attack civilians...

These articles all were posted within a span of hours of each other...

1. Afghan probe says NATO fighting killed children

2. Afghans Protest Civilian Deaths

3. US citizens killed in Afghanistan


But I've had military people tell me how beloved we are over there and how grateful the people are. Yeah... it looks like it. I never want to be this "beloved" ever.


Got to love all that Change he's working for...

First some spot on, must see political toons about Obama's Health Care Reform plan:

And aside from Health Care, it's good to know that we're doing the same kind of crap that Bush and previous Administrations did... which of course helped stoke the fires overseas and make 9/11 happen.

Last week when there was a Christmas plane incident, practically identical to the Richard Reid shoe bomber situation, it was learned that the guy had ties to Yemen.

So what does Holy Joe Lieberman do? Call for pre-emptive strikes! Of course, murder is the ONLY solution to deal with potential murderers!

However, one has to wonder what the hell Joe is talking about since we already have been preemptively striking Yemen for OVER A YEAR.

In fact just a week before the failed "attack" (I say that loosely because one moron trying and miserably failing to do something of this scope really isn't an all out "attack"), we were killing people in Yemen. Illegally I might add. We have not declared war on Yemen.

Look, if al-Qaeda is actually plotting attacks in Yemen or anywhere else, the route to go is not military action. It's cooperating with other governments and rounding up suspects personally. Not using planes or drones and blanketing an area with bombs. What tends to happen when we do this is we kill civilians (in this case 63 of them, 28 being children). What happens when you kill those civilians? You killed mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and you turn off those people to your cause... and worse you probably just recruited family and friends of the victims to fight with your enemy.

And then situations like last week occur.

You reap what you sow. If you always go up to someone and slap them in the face and tell them it's for their own good, you'd better expect it when they finally get tired of it and punch you in the stomach out of retaliation.

Two wrongs don't make a right. This guy needs to be tried and convicted and get a life sentence... just as Reid did. However, we're still committing wrongs in these situations too and we need to realize that we are accountable for our actions. And what we have done to people in Iraq and Afghanistan may seem hard to control today but when the kids there who suffered through the violence we brought to them grow up... we'll have a much bigger base of angry people (or "terrorists" as we'll label them) looking for revenge... revenge that we earned against us.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where we went wrong…

I look back now at the 2008 Campaign season with the sort of disdain you hold for your worst enemy. Hindsight is 20/20 and as a very strong liberal it’s hard not to feel completely and utterly betrayed by how events occurred. As liberals went we weren’t sure what to make of the field, once deemed the “best field of contenders in Democratic history” by many in the media. Best field for whom?

Aside from Dennis Kucinich the field was lacking any real liberal or progressive candidates. Of the main three, John Edwards was the only one using the populist rhetoric that attacked the central issues that are plaguing this country. But even he was lacking the bonafides to make anyone believe him. Russ Feingold put it succinctly when he said Edwards was using his platform but didn’t have the Senate record to back it up.

Liberals bit their lip and decided to choose the unknown quantity (Obama) who was speaking with hopeful change rhetoric over the known quantity (Clinton) who had in a previous Administration shown that they were as pro-corporation as the Reagan Republicans were.

We’re only a year in and the disappointment and frustration couldn’t be any worse. Any liberal with a brain knew exactly how this was going to go when Rahm Emanuel was named Chief of Staff. Rahm, who famously recruited rich Republican businessmen to run as Democrats because it would be an easy seat pick up had helped (along with Chuck Schumer in the DSCC) to weed out real liberals and progressives in primaries. Specifically intervening for corporate candidates and raising so much money for them that the real progressives had to bow out or face a humiliating defeat.

Rahm kept this process going once he became Obama’s top guy by keeping Progressives out of nearly every cabinet post and purposely keeping them out of policy meetings. Every progressive campaign promise was jettisoned for whatever pro-corporate policy they could support. Gays & Lesbians were given lip service but complete inaction for their rights. Single Payer advocates were purposely excluded from the negotiating table and then arrested at Congressional Hearings by order of the corporatist Democratic allies of Obama’s Administration. Obama also escalated the war in Afghanistan and managed to do so the week before he picked up a Nobel Peace Prize that he won for just not being George W. Bush. Pretty ridiculous.

Health Care “Reform” passed the Senate by a 60-40 vote this week and now goes to committee where I bet the contentious atmosphere between what House Democrats want and Senate Democrats want stalls the process quite a bit.

Still if the bill that ultimately passes resembles anything like what the Senate passed, we would have all been better off with nothing. Mandating people buy insurance when they really can’t afford to and eliminating almost all cost control provisions just means that you fed insurance companies a huge amount of customers that they can continue to overcharge. Sure there are no pre-existing conditions to fear but also no real regulatory methods in which to prevent insurers from jacking prices up any time they would like as well. There’s nothing to really like in this bill.

The whole thing is a byproduct of the Democratic sell out to lobbyists in the Health Care Industry. They spent $1.4 million a day lobbying Congress and by the end they owned them all. It’s sickening.

But it opens up the reality of what the process should have been all along. Health Care, as pressing as it is as an issue for most Americans should have been second on the docket.

Campaign Finance Reform should have been first. Of course this would require a President who wasn’t a complete sell out to corporate interests or Republican rhetoric and Obama is neither.

Still the ONLY way for real reform on the issues in a way that benefits the entire populace and not just the top 1% of this country is to make CFR the #1 issue to change.

And it requires a real overhaul not just a small change here or there like the Democrats pathetically weak lobbyist gift rule changes from 2006.
To me this reform is the one that changes all reform after it because taking private money out of the game makes the Congress accountable to one special interest: constituents.

Before I break down the concept that I propose let me say two things.

1. I think this is a plan BOTH Republicans and Democrats would support. No, not the elected ones but the grass roots. But you have to sell it differently to each constituency. There is something to like for both.

2. This plan is very strict but if enacted I assure you the Presidency and Congress would no longer be stooges to CEOs and lobbyists.

So here’s the plan, point by point.

• All parties that want to participate in national Presidential elections must fulfill signature requirements to be placed on ballots in at least 3/4ths of the 50 states. By meeting participation guidelines they will receive public funding equal to the other candidates and receive equal time on each national debate.

• For local Congressional and Senate elections, candidate must receive prerequisite signatures to receive money and guaranteed debate slot/time.

• To qualify as a candidate all candidates must divest in all stocks, bonds and financial holdings aside from personal home real estate. All assets must be liquid at the time of campaign opening and this includes all immediate family (parents, siblings, spouse, children, grandchildren). This will eliminate any impropriety from being assigned to a committee and steering dollars to friends or companies that you are personally invested in. Failure to liquidate assets will result in automatic disqualification from campaign and should offense not be discovered until after the race is over, a candidate will be expelled from their seat retroactively for such a violation.

• The election cycle is 6 weeks for party primaries and 6 weeks for the national campaign.

• Each candidate will receive the same amount of public funding. This will be used for live campaign events (speeches, travel). Each campaign will additionally receive an equal amount of primetime TV ad time, networks cannot refuse to air any candidates’ ads or they will be stripped of their FCC license.

• Corporations and Special Interest Groups are banned from airing ads. The way the law will be written, these groups will be defined as political parties rather than advocacy organizations and by definition the private money they will collect would be in violation of federal law. A candidate will be limited to only representing one political party so they cannot have an advocacy group represent them, to which that group would then need the prerequisite signatures to receive a spot on the ballot.

• Employers and Unions are strictly prohibited from organizing for or advertising/advocating on behalf of a candidate.

• Political Parties will be granted a specific amount of money, capped to a certain amount, in which they can use to organize grass roots and build party loyalty. They will be allowed, within their financial construct, to advocate for their party’s candidates but due to the limited amount of funds, they would make better use of the funding by building a ground campaign for multiple elections rather than one at a time.

What this does is majorly clamp down and end all outside money from coming into a campaign. It prevents the process from being closed to just two parties and eliminates the need to be one of the financial elite to run for office. It eliminates special interest ads which usually smear candidates and obfuscate facts. It eliminates pressure from employers and union organizing behind a candidate.

When I say this will appease both parties, it will. It takes the corporate money out of every bill. Makes the candidates beholden to the will of their constituents and gives regular people a chance to run for office and make a difference (whereas that is nearly impossible now). The Left will be ecstatic about this. In the Health Care debate this makes Single Payer a legitimate option and eliminated many of these corporate run tea bagger town hall attacks that helped screw up the debate. It would prevent the Max Baucuses and Joe Liebermans from being able to have a seat let alone selling out the entire country for some of their rich buddies. And it opens doors for Green Party Candidates, Libertarians, etc to all have equal time on the main stage and have their views listened to and heard.

The Right will be excited because this all but ends the Democratic stranglehold on Unions and the work Unions do on campaigns. It also eliminates many of the 527 groups they hate, most notably, from being a serious threat to their way of life.

If you market this for the reasons they would like the bill to each separate group, you can create a groundswell to get this type of reform passed. The media will try to fight it tooth and nail. The elected corporate sell out politicians will as well. But with a legitimate push from the grass roots on both sides, they might have no choice but to relent.

And then we’ll have a system where the laws are made of the people, by the people and for the people. Just as our forefathers seemed to intend originally, or at least they implied as much.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The End of My Support for the Democratic Party

I haven't written anything since election day but if you look back at my final posts they couldn't have been any more spot on. I warned people to look past the pretty image presented by the packaging of change and selling of hope. You could tell something was completely different about Obama as soon as he was nearing election day and in the days preceding in it was all about him ignoring the progressives and liberals that elected him and going after the right with the help of his DLC/Blue Dog corporate Republican as Democrats' recruiter, Rahm Emanuel. Most of what I wrote below was lifted (with a few alterations) from what I posted in a reply to a thread on Democratic Underground, but it explains my disappointment and abandonment of a party I spent 21 years strongly supporting and being very participatory in.

In all of this time off of writing I stayed away specifically because of my disgust with my party. I worried that this would be the direction they took us and they did so with glee. I have had a lot of personal things and work related stress to handle on the side so rattling off more angry diatribes about politics and specifically the selling out of my values by my party was just too much to handle. I think I will be posting again. Out of frustration for what is happening and because everyday is just an extended continuation of George W. Bush. Just as Bill Clinton was a continuation of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan before him.

I have no hope left for our country so long as it elects people who believe in corporatism over what's best for their constituents. We liberals never really had a choice. Obama, Hillary... even John Edwards. All were fake populists who really were corporatists. Edwards at least took an anti-corporatism plank in his election. However there were no real choices in 2008. It was sickening. I documented this before.

And now the rant I posted on DU.


I have a very hard time supporting this President or this party anymore after their continuous blatant sell out to corporate interests.

At first I used to think this was Democrats just being weak and spineless. I mean come on, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi sure play the part of ineffectual cowards well enough. However I realized that all along we have been played for suckers. Democrats are not weak at all. They are not caving either. They don't support us at all. They're using us for votes. They really do believe in the pro-corporatist crap they put out there to enrich their well connected friends. Washington is a hustle for them. They get into office and make as much money as they can. OBSCENE amounts of money. And the only way to do this is to load up your buddies or companies you have a vested interest in and watch as your family, friends and even yourself once you retire from the role of bank robber, er, Congressperson get rich as hell.

Liberals and good hearted Democrats are probably just as easy to use as the people on the right. Think about it. The right is easy to use because they are intellectual lightweights who are incurious to facts and are pulled along on emotional social issues like Abortion and Gay Rights that conflict with years of bigoted teachings in their families and churches.

The Left while far more educated on all issues and topics can be used emotionally as well. Especially now. After 30 years of watching their jobs disappear, watching their loved ones die or suffer because of health care corruption, watching their friends and family be shipped to wars of choice meant to enrich corporate buddies in the military corporate industries, seeing the Constitution shredded and watching friends and loved ones discriminated against because of their sexual preference... we were ripe for change. And ripe to be used.

The cheerleaders will say, "Obama never said he was going to do ______". The problem is he never really had to. He said "Hope" and "Change" which IMPLIED far more than some of his conservative promises.

I remember many of those same cheerleaders who are saying these things now telling us after the primaries that Obama had to play to the right and move to the center to win the election and that once he was elected he wouldn't be so centrist because nobody ever stays completely at the center.

The problem was it wasn't an act. The entire time he was spouting "Hope" and "Change" he was moving to the center right for good. Positioning himself permanently. That's never really how these elections are supposed to work. Previously, moving to the center was always just a tactic to assuage fears from the undecided independents.

After 8 years of Bush, "Hope" and "Change" meant a LOT more than Obama's ardent supporters on this site care to admit or understand. Bush was CHANGE in the other direction. He took the Reagan era and put it on steroids. They declared war on the Constitution and Geneva Conventions and two countries all at once. They used their secret tactics and federal agencies to attempt political warfare, not just on elected politicians but also on political interest groups. They pushed Washington even further into the realm of corporate piggy bank than anyone had before (a tough task considering the three Presidents before him) and they almost ruined the nation economically doing it.

Change from that has to be drastic by the very nature of the amount of damage caused. Going to the left is the only direction politically and policy wise that we can possibly move to after Bush-Cheney.

Instead Obama and his corporate cronies decided that they would make the smallest changes possible and on the things that mattered most, continue the Bush Doctrine of Corporation over Citizen.

He defended and expanded Bush's State Secrecy rules. He refused to go after anyone for torture or war crimes. Never closed down Gitmo and pushed out an Administration policymaker that was working on that on their behalf. He announced a draw down in Iraq but wants to keep tens of thousands of troops there and is increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, an unwinnable war with no real end goal other than to prop up a corrupt election stealing government.

He decided gay rights were better to talk about in speeches to pacify the base then to actually defend. He decided Health Care Reform should in fact be a corporate giveaway and worked with Max Baucus to make it so. All so he can declare victory over a major issue, even though that victory just made it completely worse. He employed corporate cronies all throughout his cabinet and Administration and made sure that two of the biggest from Goldman Sachs got to enrich all of their Wall Street friends while refusing to really make the necessary changes to end what got us in this situation in the first place.

Where is Teddy Roosevelt's big stick? There's got to be a stick lying around in Washington SOMEWHERE.

A few months back I wrote a post on Democratic Underground (a fairly liberal site that wasn't completely supportive of the party, so much as the principles for which it stood) asking whether you consider yourself a Democrat anymore or not. I was on the fence. I'm off of it. I don't anymore. I was slammed pretty heavily for even asking such a question.

From the time I was eleven I followed politics and supported this party. I always sold myself the idea that Republicans represented big business and Democrats represented the rest of us. That Democrats actually had morals and believed in the concept of right and wrong.

My eyes have finally opened. They started to during the Clinton years but I like most here, wrote that off and blamed the Republican Congressional Majority. There's just no excuse this time around. We have full control and they don't care. THEY don't represent us. And for the past few decades, I wonder if they ever did.