Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Brownshirts Are Coming!

I thought I may have imagined this when I first listened to the State of the Union the other night, but unfortunately I did not.

The fact he is calling for this really says a lot about how over-extended our military is right now.

"One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military - so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next 5 years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time. "



Historically, these civilian forces have played important roles during wartime. For instance the Nazi Stormtroopers, or Sturmabteilung, also known as the SA or Brown shirts, played a key role in Hitler's rise to power since they were civilians who's primary job was busting up beer halls to silence any dissent.

The Perfect Cantidate


In The Republic, Plato suggests that a fundamental problem with Democracy is that the people who will seek out that kind of power are generally the last kind of people that would like to see with that kind of power because they are most likely to abuse it in seeking even more power. In answer to this he suggests a system wherein candidates are drawn by lottery to public service, or by nomination in a referendum sort of like our primaries. If you are nominated, which means, if enough people want you in particular to run for an office, then you must do it as your duty as a citizen.

If that were the system we lived under today, I believe the majority of Democrats would just nominate Al Gore to run again.

Rolling Stone lays out some very good arguments for why Al Gore is the perfect candidate for the Democrats in 2008.
I love their opening...
A stiff Vice President campaigns on his administration's legacy of unprecedented prosperity. Looks terrible on TV. Bows out, following a disputed vote count. Then, two terms later, with no incumbent in the race, he re-enters the fray. Promises to change the course of a disastrous war founded on lies. And charges to victory. I'm referring, of course, to the 1968 campaign of Richard Milhous Nixon. But four decades later, history has a chance to repeat itself for Albert Arnold Gore.
A lot of people are already behind a campaign to "draft" Al Gore in 2008.

Personally my favorite cantidate remains John Edwards. Al Gore is infinately better than Dumbya, but he is still a DLC Democrat and a Corporatist. America desperately needs populists if we want to have any hope of salvaging our middle class.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Prognostications

I just want to have this on record.

I think that sometime in the next year, Dick Cheney is going to step down from office, citing "health reasons" and will be replaced by either Condi Rice or Tom Ridge as V.P.

It will probably depend upon who seems to take the upper hand between the Democrats, for example, if Hillary pulls clearly ahead of everyone else, Condi is more likely to be the one picked.

Also, sometime in the next two years, the micro-conflict between the Sunnis and Shia in Iraq is going to explode into a region-wide war, involving Iran and Saudi Arabia at the very least.

At some point there is going to be the "Archduke Ferdinand" moment that will create a domino effect, causing the conflict to escalate out of control.

I have to wonder, when the "sectarian conflict" in Iraq escalates, whose side are we going to take? Will we continue to side with the "Official" Iraqi government when they side with Iran? They are already allies.

Or will we side with the Sunni minority in Iraq, and thus with our good "friends" Saudi Arabia, against the democratically elected government in Iraq.

Want to make some money?

Invest now in weapon manufacturers and defense contractors.

Alright, one other thing, I think that at some point in the near future, China will start to exert more of its influence on America. As our ability to consume decreases because of stagnating wages and increasing costs of living, China will begin to slow down the amount of credit it is buying, thus driving the value of the dollar down, and their profits up.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Letter to Congress

This is the text of a letter I sent to my Congressman and Senator recently. I thought I would share it here. I am also sending it into some local papers, but it is probably too long to be published there.

The question of whether George W. Bush has committed high crimes or misdemeanors is one that must be answered for the health and stability of America. It is the legal and moral imperative of Congress to hold the executive branch in check. In order to do that you must investigate and if your investigations find evidence then you must prosecute.

The pardon of Richard Nixon was one of the most devastating blows to the trust the people have in the American government to function fairly and justly. The ease with which Congress gave up investigations into Iran-Contra was another, arguably lesser, blow to our nation. That kind of thing must not happen again. Another such blow to the fabric of the social contract between the government and the governed, and that contract might just shatter.

In order to maintain the trust of the people and therefore the mandate to govern, the people must know that everyone is accountable to the law, especially those at the highest levels. We can see on television every night that those at the lowest levels cannot escape the law. That imbalance is not lost on the average citizen of this country.

Our nation is hurting.

We are bleeding liberty while cynicism and apathy infect our culture.

Something needs to be done.

This is not the time to be politically cautious.

This is the time to be a true patriot.

This is the time to be an idealist of the highest order, in the manner of the Jefferson, Madison or Adams.

Do not fail your country in this, our hour of need.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

President Ford Ultimately Damaged America

I was only a child when Ford pardoned Nixon so I missed out on the Watergate Hearings. After experiencing the OJ Hearings I can imagine to some degree what was meant by "long national nightmare". But from my perspective I did see the effects that pardon had on our national debate and ultimately to our culture overall.

Gerald Ford did grave damage to America.

By failing to allow the system to work as it is intended, he forced a deep wound to stay open instead of healing.

Now that wound has festered and infected America at its core.

Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon set the disastrous precedent that any serious scandal involving the executive branch poses a threat to the stability of this nation.

That false frame was again invoked when George Bush Sr. would not allow any investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal.

Both times, it was obvious nonsense because it involved public figures who were already out of office.

That is why when they went after Bill Clinton it was ultimately for a frivolous cause, marital infidelity. It was not a serious, high crime or breach of Constitutional Oath. They claimed it was because he "lied", but the topic he lied about was ultimately nothing more then marital infidelity. That frivolous cause was enough to target the President for, but it did not fit in their frame which created a threat to the "stability" of the nation.

I predict it is again going to be invoked by the right as part of the excuses that we will be hearing more of in the next two years, to try and protect the Bush Administration from investigation.

If a Republican President wins in 2008, the Republicans will most assuredly be invoking this frame again to support a pardon for the Bush Administration from anything that comes up in whatever investigations happen in the next two years.

We, as a people, need to reject that false frame.

When those in authority commit crimes or misdemeanors it wounds us. It damages us as a nation because it breaks the trust between the people and the government we give power to.

Holding our elected officials accountable for their actions is what HEALS our wounds.

Our system was setup to handle this eventuality. If the American justice system were allowed to work, there would have been closure and the nation could have healed. We could have continued on in the knowledge that ultimately our system does work.

Instead, we got confirmation of our fears that our system is indeed broken.

Instead, by pardoning Nixon out of purely partisan loyalty, Ford did not allow the system to work as designed.

By Pardoning Nixon, Gerald Ford prevented America from healing properly from that "long, national nightmare".

That national nightmare of escalating partisan venom has continued to this day, but now it has been institutionalized.

Then Reagan got rid of the Fairness doctrine, it allowed viruses like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Fox News to infect our society by infecting our public debate with partisan propaganda and misinformation.

We see it everyday on the rightwing media, especially with the primary culprit, Fox News.

For example, yesterday they were covering Nancy Pelosi's ascendance to Speaker with distain. The Fox News "Anchors" were openly mocking Pelosi and setting up the frame of her as a jealous, scornful woman. Their proof, a story about how a woman that Pelosi did not appoint to any position was angry about it. Their claim was essentially that Pelosi must be jealous and scornful, because she is, after all, a woman. Meanwhile, the Fox "News" banner that scrolled along at the bottom played into that frame with "Catfight in Congress".

None of that is News.

It isn't even remotely helpful.

It is only entertaining in the same shallow way as Professional Wrestling.

It is an open display of distain and scorn for any opposing political thought.

It is an example of the WOUND which inflicts America, possibly terminally.

A wound that Gerald Ford had a chance to heal but failed to do so.

He chose not to heal this country because he put his loyalty to his Political Party above his loyalty to his Country.

The rightwing is falsely trumpeting that he "healed the nation" and then flip-flopping around the next second and spewing the very venomous, intolerant dogma that is infecting this Country to its core.

We, the people, need to continue to fight to restore our Democracy by holding the Democrats accountable now that they are in power.

Do not join in the useless and nonsensical partisan rhetoric that will undoubtedly be spewing forth from the rightwing media from now on.

Stay true to Progressive Ideals like Compassion, Fairness and Truth. Stay on top of our newly elected officials so that they know our priority this time is to hold those in power accountable for what they have done by misleading us into this quagmire formerly known as Iraq.

Write to your Representatives. Write to the heads or members of any committees relevant to these issues.

Now is the time to be out in the streets of America protesting, because there is a chance the Democrats might actually listen.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Saddam's Execution = A Victory for Muqtada Al-Sadr

The really disturbing thing, to me, about the execution of Saddam was that the tape of it, recorded by two of Muqtada Al-Sadr's men, clearly showed a mob-style lynching instead of a somber and proper state execution.

It really brings into question who is actually running Iraq.

First of all, the executioners (decked out in black leather and ski masks) who led Saddam to the gallows reportedly told him that he destroyed the country before yelling "Muqtada Al-sadr!".

Then there were also hecklers among the crowd who were also chanting "Muqtada Al-sadr!"

The Malaki government claims they are in charge in Iraq, but lets look at the facts.

They couldn't control the "executioners".

They couldn't keep out a mob of al-sadr's followers.

They couldn't stop al-sadr's men from videotaping the entire event, or prevent them from posting it to the internet.

And on top of all that, both the executioners and the mob were chanting the name of a religious cleric and Rebel.

So I pose the questions: Who is really in charge of Iraq? Is this the "Democracy" that Bush claimed he was bringing them?

Peace on Earth

This Cartoon from 1939 is the only cartoon to ever be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.