Monday, January 30, 2006

The Vote for Tomorrow

Honor Roll
Bayh (D-IN) Nay
Biden (D-DE) Nay
Boxer (D-CA) Nay
Clinton (D-NY) Nay
Dayton (D-MN) Nay
Dodd (D-CT) Nay
Durbin (D-IL) Nay
Feingold (D-WI) Nay
Feinstein (D-CA) Nay
Jeffords (I-VT) Nay
Kennedy (D-MA) Nay
Kerry (D-MA) Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ) Nay
Leahy (D-VT) Nay
Levin (D-MI) Nay
Menendez (D-NJ) Nay
Mikulski (D-MD) Nay
Murray (D-WA) Nay
Obama (D-IL) Nay
Reed (D-RI) Nay
Reid (D-NV) Nay
Sarbanes (D-MD) Nay
Schumer (D-NY) Nay
Stabenow (D-MI) Nay
Wyden (D-OR) Nay

Wall of Shame
Akaka (D-HI) Yea
Alexander (R-TN) Yea
Allard (R-CO) Yea
Allen (R-VA) Yea
Baucus (D-MT) Yea
Bennett (R-UT) Yea
Bingaman (D-NM) Yea
Bond (R-MO) Yea
Brownback (R-KS) Yea
Bunning (R-KY) Yea
Burns (R-MT) Yea
Burr (R-NC) Yea
Byrd (D-WV) Yea
Cantwell (D-WA) Yea
Carper (D-DE) Yea
Chafee (R-RI) Yea
Chambliss (R-GA) Yea
Coburn (R-OK) Yea
Cochran (R-MS) Yea
Coleman (R-MN) Yea
Collins (R-ME) Yea
Conrad (D-ND) Yea
Cornyn (R-TX) Yea
Craig (R-ID) Yea
Crapo (R-ID) Yea
DeMint (R-SC) Yea
DeWine (R-OH) Yea
Dole (R-NC) Yea
Domenici (R-NM) Yea
Dorgan (D-ND) Yea
Enzi (R-WY) Yea
Frist (R-TN) Yea
Graham (R-SC) Yea
Grassley (R-IA) Yea
Gregg (R-NH) Yea
Hatch (R-UT) Yea
Hutchison (R-TX) Yea
Inhofe (R-OK) Yea
Inouye (D-HI) Yea
Isakson (R-GA) Yea
Johnson (D-SD) Yea
Kohl (D-WI) Yea
Kyl (R-AZ) Yea
Landrieu (D-LA) Yea
Lieberman (D-CT) Yea
Lincoln (D-AR) Yea
Lott (R-MS) Yea
Lugar (R-IN) Yea
Martinez (R-FL) Yea
McCain (R-AZ) Yea
McConnell (R-KY) Yea
Murkowski (R-AK) Yea
Nelson (D-FL) Yea
Nelson (D-NE) Yea
Pryor (D-AR) Yea
Roberts (R-KS) Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV) Yea
Salazar (D-CO) Yea
Santorum (R-PA) Yea
Sessions (R-AL) Yea
Shelby (R-AL) Yea
Smith (R-OR) Yea
Snowe (R-ME) Yea
Specter (R-PA) Yea
Stevens (R-AK) Yea
Sununu (R-NH) Yea
Talent (R-MO) Yea
Thomas (R-WY) Yea
Thune (R-SD) Yea
Vitter (R-LA) Yea
Voinovich (R-OH) Yea
Warner (R-VA) Yea

Hedge Hogs
Ensign (R-NV) Not Voting
Hagel (R-NE) Not Voting
Harkin (D-IA) Not Voting

What is the state of the union?

At some point during the State of the Union speech that president usually more of less explicitly declares what his opinion of the state of the union is.

In 1999 President Clinton said, “My fellow Americans, I stand before you to report that the state of our union is strong.”

In 2002 George W Bush said, “Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger.”

Of course whether the state of the union was strong in 1999 and indeed got stronger in the next 3 years, is a question for history to judge.

I wonder how the president in his fifth year is going to characterize the state of this union now in 2006. Is it stronger still? Is it strongest? Is it secure? Prosperous?

He could say any these things. He could say all of these things. And he would be lying. But then that never stopped him before.

How would you characterize it? And how do you think George Bush will?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The game that's fundi to play

The right wing wind machine has been working hard at forging the recent Osama tape into a weapon to bludgeon those of us on the side of truth and justice and (to be redundant) against the Bush junta.

The Bush-approved lexicon uses the word islamo-fascist to describe those of Osama’s ilk. Despite the fact that those right wingers are full of shit and know it when they accuse the left of wanting anything like Osama’s beliefs anywhere near this continent. But we still must deal with that awkward term islamo-fasctist. It isn’t that it isn’t fitting. Even though technically fascism is corporatism with a catchy name (according to the coiner Benito Mussolini), Hitler refined the concept and gave us the notion of fascism that we know today. So, in the vernacular sense islamo-fascist describes Osama pretty well.

But you know that term just doesn’t do it: Islamo-fascism. It sounds like stuff you want to get out of your mouth as quickly as possible despite the fact that you know that the thick white ooze that’s left on your chin will be wicked gross in the mirror.

So let’s instead look at what Osama believes and go from there.

For one thing he believes in the return of the Caliphate – a semi-mythical time in Islam when one person wielded both secular and religious power and spoke for God (or so he said).

And then there is Osama's belief that the Koran speaks for all situations and all times in its exact words. No interpretation. No changing with all the things God might not have mentioned because humanity didn’t know about it back in 600 A.D.

And there is his fundamental belief in the wickedness of humanity. Woman must be suppressed to control their wiles. Men are so weak they cannot be made responsible in the face of unrestrained women who are free to behave as equals with the weenie men.

So there is Osama and his followers and many others apparently in Islam who are less lethal but just as rabid in their fundamentalist beliefs. And also there is the word that best describes Osama’s approach to Islam: fundamentalist. So to abstract we have a fundamentalist fascist or to coin a term: a Fundi-fascist.

Unlike some who sling the term islamo-fascist around like so much hash, I am not anti-Islamic and the beauty of a term like Fundi-fascism is that it doesn’t describe any particular creed. What it describes is, 1: a belief in a golden age when everything was better because fundi-fascism was the defacto law of the land. 2: the scripture of the fundi-fascist’s choice is to be taken literally – more particularly that is, literally according to the fundi-fascist who is doing the interpreting, and 3: People are fundamentally (there’s that word again) weak and wicked and cannot be allowed to take responsibility for themselves.

So there we have an abstraction: fundi-fascism. For any good abstraction to be successful, it must be applicable to entities other than that which was used to derive the abstraction.

I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to see if there are other instances of this abstraction.

Alito Vote: My Phone Message To My Senators

I live in Maine. My Senators are Snowe and Collins. Both of them are known as Republican moderates. Below is the voice mail I left with their offices. If you feel you might have any sway over your senator's vote please call (better) or email (still good) the senator's office. Feel free to use this script as a template. I spoke pretty fast because I didn't know what kind of cutoff on voicemail there would be. Both calls went through in entirety.

The message:

I am dismayed but not surprised that the Judiciary Committee has approved the Alito nomination for consideration by the full Senate.

I am asking you to oppose this nomination. I understand that it will be a difficult vote for you to oppose the combined force of your senate leadership and a president from your party.

I believe Judge Alito is the wrong person to elevate to the Cupreme Court on several counts.

One is his minimal belief in the individual rights of Americans. He eluded many questions during the hearings but his statements and decisions in the past make clear to me that he will be instrumental in rolling back our hard won liberties of the last half-century.

As minimal as his beliefs are in the individual rights of Americans, his expansive belief in the power of the executive is frankly dangerous to our republic. His notion of the unitary executive if accepted as constitutionally valid will give the president seemingly unlimited authority to do whatever he pleases. In fact it is not too strong a statement to say that if the senate does vote to elevate Judge Alito to the Supreme Court you may as well all pack up and go home because you will have effectively voted to make the senate a superfluous body.

Please you must oppose Judge Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Friday, January 13, 2006

juat another good day to go shopping

Am I despondent? No. Not quite. Am I distressed over what is going on? I guess that answers itself.

I look out over what our nation could be and what our nation has become and I am distressed.

Where did all those people come from who would sacrifice their very freedoms for the blatherings of politicians?

What is it that has made our Constitution so superfluous and apparently expendable that people at every turn are willing to give it up. That is even despite the fact that the very fabric of what they enjoy in life is made possible because of that same Constitution.

We shall soon have yet another judge on Supreme Court who believes that George Bush is a quasi-King. That makes six. It took five to get W there to begin with in 2000. No that plus Alito will (I was going to say can but no it is “will”) sanction the executive depriving Habeus Corpus. Whenever he fucking wants to. It will sanction his ability to play commander in chief of the universe to torture anyone he wants, to eavesdrop on anyone he pleases. It will let him do this without requiring him to tell you that you are even a target.

Where the fuck did America go? It seems like just yesterday we were debating the nature of expanding civil rights–of realizing the potential of minorities as first class American citizens. Now in 2006 we are debating our BASIC RIGHTS AS UNITED STATES CITIZENS.

And no on cares. Your Congress certainly doesn’t care. Your President is the problem. Your Judiciary is – starting from the top – more and more in the bag to the corruption that IS GEORGE BUSH.

We as a people, as a nation, as a beacon to the world, are well and truly fucked.

So the right wing wins – America loses. And we can all go shopping.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The birds - the sequel

Maybe it is just the nature of tipping points.

I was close to despair thinking whether our nation could fix itself. The headlong rush into lawlessness that is Generalissimo George’s administration, his incompetence (by any measure it is almost breathtaking), his stupid, demeaning (for the United States) swagger that signals to the world that we are a paper tiger.

The abuse is rampant. The enablers in the media are relentless. The Generalissimo’s willing executioners in Congress seem in complete charge.

Then almost at a stroke, the chickens come home to roost. It is funny that it should be chickens that would be the epitome of retributive justice for an administration of swaggering bullies. But God works in mysterious ways. It created evolution after all. But I have to say this is starting to look like a chicken remake of The Birds as envisioned by Mel Brooks.

The Generalissimo’s regime got its first um, splatter when D.A. Ronnie Earle in Texas indicted Tom Delay for Delay’s successful money laundering scheme to fund the gerrymandering of the Texas legislature.

The next splat came when it was discovered that Jack Abramoff had the bad sense to get involved with business associates who might place the people they disagree with in the trunk of a car with a bullet to the head at the same time he was running a slush fund for Republican officeholders and committing fraud (The last is what he pled guilty to. The other two are under investigation–Abramoff has agreed to cooperate). If one wonders what government employees do all the time, for a good long time a flock of them are going to be investigating the House that Jack bought.

In between that we have the Chief of staff to the Vice President being indicted for obstruction of justice in a national security case that may also involve Karl Rove and possibly the big bird–Dick Cheney–himself.

And if that isn’t enough, we have the Generalissimo. Admitting to breaking the law to spy on Americans. Pretending that he can dictate the meaning of the law with his Crayola signing statements. And as always raising the bloody flag of 9/11 to keep his minions in line.

Iraq…2 to 3 trillion dollars. The Generalissimo impeached…priceless.

In the face of disasters spawned by his naming incompetent cronies to positions of authority (Iraq, Katrina, the Sago mine disaster) who do not care to do the job as it was intended to be done but rather to do it according to their peculiar ideological brain fever, the Generalissimo signs a slew of recess appointments that do nothing but keep the tradition of incompetence alive.

Even now, I can almost feel the push back as the chicken little Republican majority in Congress decides that if they want to keep their jobs they have to pretend to fly right and even stand up to the lame duck Generalissimo (I know that is a lot of metaphors to take in at one time).

So I am not happy as a lark but I am guardedly hopeful. I am hopeful that the Generalissimo and his willing executioners will finally feel the weight of the Laws of the United States upon their backs. Now I know that justice is never really done at the upper echelons of power. And until the Generalissimo is impeached he can pardon anyone he wants - just like dear old dad.

But little by little as each chicken comes to its nest (and there will be more) another obstacle blocks the Generalissimo’s plan to turn the Constitution into his personal birdcage liner.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Generalissimo George Bush

Generalissimo George Bush has just made recess appointments for nearly 20 appointees to various positions in his administration. That is within his power to do as a technicality in the law. In fact Generalissimo George Bush is using it to once again circumvent the Constitutional command that the Senate “advise and consent” to these positions. Like the John Bolton elevation to the Ambassador to the U.N., I can understand that Generalissimo George Bush would be piqued that his anointed candidate would be held up by something as trivial as the United States Constitution. After all he is the Commander in Chief of everything and stuff so he can do whatever he wants. Even Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito has said so. So hey, it has to be right.

What I notice though is that some of these appointments were never placed before the Senate for confirmation. Well they must be pretty important to require the unusual prerogative of a recess appointment. Right?

So important in fact that they cannot wait for Constitutionally proscribed procedure, which would begin when Congress reconvenes in February. (stop me if this rush sounds like the unconstitutional FISA violating wiretaps). Let’s see.

We have two people appointed to the FEC. That is the Federal Election Commission. Very important in this time of war. Can’t wait there for proper advice and consent.

Then there are those who have had issues raised on their appointment. One is the Assistant Secretary of State of Refugees, population, and migration. There were actual senators that had questions about her credentials for the job. Can’t wait to resolve that.

Not least is the appointment to the Homeland Security Department's office of state and local preparedness that even Joe Lieberman had reservations about. You’re doing a heckuva job Joey- but hey I am the Generalissimo around here.

Are recess appointments in the President’s power? Yes. Is judicious (and relatively rare) use both a tradition and a requisite for using that power? Yes. Does Generalissimo George Bush believe in anything that our Constitution stands for? In my most humble opinion the answer is no.

In 2002, Bush said, “There’s nothing wrong with a dictatorship, as long as I am the dictator."At least for once Generalissimo George Bush has told the truth. In 2006, Generalissimo George Bush appears to be aiming to prove it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2006 - new year prediction?

Put on your tinfoil hats kids. Or make new ones if you have already worn out the old one 5 years into the creeping coup that is the Bush administration. Now I am not claiming that George Bush is attempting a coup against the Constitutional government that is the United States. No. We all know that he is not almost anything enough to be able to pull that off. But Cheney is.

Here’s the deal. Cheney was named by Bush to find a VP when candidate Bush was heading to the Republican nomination in 2000. Cheney looks across the length and breadth of this great continental nation and lo he finds the one person, the best person, the person uniquely capable of being Vice President in a George W Bush administration–Dick Cheney.

Actually what Cheney found was George Bush the tool. George Bush is the perfect potemkin president. He lacks curiosity. He lacks intellectual capacity and more importantly he lacks interest in developing his capacity. He is a spoiled, brash scion of privilege and wealth that throws tantrums and swaggers and is a bully. In short a good straw-leader.

So, Cheney becomes the shadow president. Not so much to rule behind the scene but to effect the erosion of Constitutional government. I won’t venture that Cheney had something to do with 9/11. For that one would need a cap made of stronger stuff than tinfoil but he did take ample advantage of that singular event.

Suddenly throughout government very extreme ideas become mainstream. Justice officials determine that torture is ok. U.N. rules against it are outdated. They determine that the president can do whatever the fuck he wants. Oversight by the Congress is a burden and an abridgement of executive prerogative. War making power rests in the hands of something that the executive branch calls the Commander-in-Chief, a position with powers that to normal Americans appears to be something very different from what we understand that position to entail.

The media over time is inured to the breach each time because the creeping coupists have hitched themselves to a very successful political machine in the national Republican party. This isn’t to say that the RNC is a co-conspirator in this creeping coup. Instead the Republican party instead is merely a willing executioner. I mean how much really did George Bush have to do with the Republican party? He was a behind the scenes guy for his dad’s campaign. Texas state politics is really an ecosystem unto itself and being governor of Texas is like being manager of a very large Burger King–all the real decisions are made somewhere else. The RNC can be nothing other than an instrument of convenience in this plot.

So what comes next? George Bush should watch his health. Does that sound extreme? Maybe but consider this: George Bush has an accident (he has had several wounding injuries including choking on a pretzel in his own home in the last five years). The usual suspects are rounded up, meaning everyone the NSA has tapped. And of course it is a national emergency so everything–not just what remains of habeus corpus-but everything gets suspended. We already see that according to the president’s “consent decree” when he signed the McCain amendment that he could ignore it (and consequently any law he wishes to circumvent) at his will. So what is to stop the next president–the newly sworn in President Cheney from just carrying on. You know, to protect the American People.

So there it is. I am not claiming that this is in fact what is happening. I have no idea. But there are a lot of dots and when you connect them just right… well I’m just saying.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

what will the new year bring?

Well Happy New Year in what may prove to be the last year of the Republic. Oh I suppose like ancient Rome the nominal republic may go on for years or even decades. But we have seen in the elections of the last several cycles, that money buys power, influence to a degree that hasn’t been equaled since Rome. And now we are seeing that that same money and power buys immunity from the very Constitution that elected officials are sworn to uphold.

Just as Caesar was immune to law because he was Caesar and ultimately named Dictator for Life, we are seeing George Bush (is it even meaningful to call him “president” anymore?) step all over the Constitution in the name of his WOT. A war whose parameters only he can define and whose end only he can declare and which gives him ultimate power to do anything he damn well pleases. At least Caesar had to be named Dictator for Life by the Senate–a formality admittedly because he had become that in fact anyway. Our Constitution gives the President the title of Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States (Article II section 2). That stipulating phrase at the end of the title seems to be a nicety that C-I-C Bush thinks is unnecessary citing as he has his authority as C-I-C to do everything from drilling for oil in Alaska to tapping domestic phone calls and even possibly monitoring Quaker meetings.

Although it took Caesar to tip the Roman Republic into dictatorship and finally empire, he was just the final enabling catalyst. The polity that was the Roman Republic was almost republic in name only before Caesar. It happened because the monied, aristocratic class wanted to be an oligarchy. To call Rome a democracy would do injury to the word but it did offer rights and protections for all non-slave classes. The oligarchs eroded that and ultimately Rome’s politics became a turf war among the powerful and the connected–a turf war that ultimately brought Caesar to power. I suppose without Caesar there would have been another thug to step up to the task of fully dismantling the Republic, but that is academic for there was Caesar himself to do the job. By the time of his assassination that task was mostly complete.

In the power vacuum his murder left came civil war then Octavius who would become Augustus. And with him the transformation was complete. Rome became an Empire. Although even Augustus viewed himself merely as “First Citizen.”

Now we see C-I-C Bush admit to breaking the Constitution and boasting that he would continue to do it. at the same time we see that the likelihood that he will be held to account for his illegal and unconstitutional actions to be distant. Like Caesar I guess it didn’t require George Bush to destroy the American Republic, as I said it has been going on for a while. But we do have George Bush. And we have our oligarchs in the majority party that like the Senate in Rome thought they could control the beast that they were bringing to life. Of course they can’t. Oligarchy is a very unstable form of government and ultimately devolves into dictatorship.

Perhaps we can rescue ourselves from this fate. Perhaps the institutions have not been destroyed to the point where their resilience has been totally compromised. Perhaps the oligarchs will realize that they are no more precious to the all powerful executive than the fawning masses he would use to populate his preening appearances. Already we have seen that he completely disregarded the oligarchs in his plan to illegally wiretap Americans. Perhaps the American people and the Press will realize that times are critical and will stand up against a marauding executive, and demand that he be held to account like all citizens–whether First or last.

Our Constitution is a powerful document but it is merely parchment without the backbone of the people and those sworn to uphold it to ensure that the law of our nation is upheld and that this nation shall endure.

Happy 2006