July 29, 2005

Who Gets Rich & Who Gets Diddly

I learned something from Ahnold. No, not Ahnold the Governator. Not even Ahnold the Terminator. Ahnold the Eraser. You remember the movie with Vanessa Williams and James Caan? I won't go into the plot, but there was one thing that James Caan said to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the airplane just after he revealed himself as the bad guy. He said (paraphrasing, from memory):

War isn't about winning and losing. War is about who gets rich, and who gets dead.

I'll always remember that message because it's so true... and not just about war. It's about politics & government too... at least the part about who gets rich. I think that's a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans.... Who gets rich, and who gets diddly.

Tax & Spend

While Republicans love to demonize Democrats as "Tax & Spend Liberals", unfortunately the American people don't see that it's all just marketing. Do you think Republicans don't 'tax & spend'? Of course they do. They're politicians too. That's their job. They tax the people and spend that money. It's not a difficult concept to grasp.

The myth of it all is that the Republicans want you to believe that they'll tax 'less'. And of course, nothing can be further from the truth. And speaking of being far from the truth, the Republicans also want you to believe that they're fiscally responsible. Do you think the Republicans have balanced a budget? Nooooooooooo.

Truth time. The Clinton Administration not only balanced the federal budget, but also left a huge surplus to the next administration. Clearly it's the Republican administrations of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II that have overspent the budget, leaving debt and burden for generations to come.

Oh, but I digress.... I was talking about who gets rich and who gets diddly...

The real difference between Democrats & Republicans...

How the money is distributed... Republicans gravitate towards war & conflict to keep the Defense industries lucrative, while the Democrats gravitate towards peace and Domestic programs to help the less fortunate and aid the needy. Republicans gravitate towards big business profits and deregulation, while Democrats gravitate towards protections for the environment and the people. Republicans gravitate towards a culture of fear and big-brother type governmental bullying, while the Democrats gravitate towards civil liberties and personal privacy. Republicans gravitate towards religion-based governing, while the Democrats gravitate towards separation of church & state.

Who's getting rich?

So, here's my point. Take a look at Bush's recently proposed budget. There are dramatic cuts in domestic services, while at the same time, a surplus "emergency" budget was submitted (and approved) to keep our wars going in the Middle East. Who's getting rich? The defense industries and contractors, of course. The energy companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the insurance companies. And don't forget the people who are already rich... you know, the ones getting the best out of tax cuts.

Who's getting diddly?

Pretty much everyone who's not in the previous paragraph. Veterans who had their health benefits cut. College kids who had their Pell grants cut. School children who had their lunch programs cut. School systems that had their "No Child Left Behind" funding cut. Single mothers who had their day-care benefits cut. The elderly who had their Medicare & drug benefits cut. Parents who now pay extra fees for their children's sports and activities. Motorists who pay extra fees for tolls and astronomical prices for gas. And don't get me started about retirees who had their pensions slashed while at the same time United Airlines was allowed to renege on their pension commitments.

The Energy Bill: A Double Whammy

After you've reviewed Bush's proposed budget, take a look at the new Energy Bill his Republican thugs have steamrolled through Congress. Yet another example of Republican brilliance. Who's getting rich? The energy companies of course, with tax breaks, subsidies, and corporate welfare. Who's getting diddly? The American people of course. All credible accounts are that the Energy Bill will do NOTHING to address the rising cost of gasoline and our dependence on foreign oil. But the real loser is the environment since George has absolutely no desire to address pollution and global warming.

A wise man once told me... "Follow the money" Sure, there are ideological differences between Democrats & Republicans, but the true difference is in how they spend the money. Who gets rich, and who gets diddly. Republicans want to help the rich get richer, while Democrats see the value of spreading the wealth around, protecting the people & the environment, and helping the needy.

And sadly, the real losers in all of this are our children, and our children's children. They're the ones who'll inherit the burden of the debt these reckless Republicans have left them and a pollution problem that's not getting any better.

July 22, 2005

"Defending Marriage" vs. Civil Rights

Our country was founded on a number of fundamental principles. When our forefathers seceded from Mother England, they had hundreds of years of hindsight with which to form a new government. They saw the mistakes being made in other countries, for example, where religions were ruling, and they composed a constitution that specifically protected the people from the government. That's right - our constitution was specifically devised to protect us from a potentially abusive and overreaching government.

In the 200+ years since the formation of our United States, our constitution has grown and evolved into a living, breathing, governing entity. We've elected legislators who have interpreted our will and amended the constitution in various ways. While there have been changes made in our laws, both locally and nationally, the most significant changes have been in the category of civil rights. In these 200+ years since Thomas Jefferson first penned the Declaration of Independence, we've abolished slavery, allowed women to vote, and taken significant measures to fight discrimination through de-segregation and affirmative action. We've fought against discrimination at every juncture to protect the rights of the elderly, the children, the handicapped, and minorities of every kind... except one.

Why is it that we continue to openly and vocally discriminate against those who choose to bond with people of the same gender? It is so outrageously clear and overt that the "Defense of Marriage" movement is nothing but gay-bashing. It's discrimination, pure and simple, and it goes against 200+ years of strides we've made to protect the rights of our citizens. Why is it that gay people are not entitled to equal protection of their civil rights like every other citizen?

For the record, I am not gay. I am happily married for 22 years to a wonderful woman. So why am I speaking out in defense of gay people? Because I'm deeply saddened by the way they've been treated, and I find it utterly despicable that some politicians and even clergy have built their careers, reputations, and candidacies at the expense of people who are not hurting anyone, and at the expense of a major crux of our constitution - civil rights & liberties.

If you want to defend the institution of marriage Mr. Bush, Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Falwell, Mr. Romney or any of you other half-baked, hypocritical, conservative, excuses for public servants, then why don't you do something about the institution of divorce? Perhaps you've overlooked the fact that the only state in the union which permits gay marriage (Massachusetts), has the lowest divorce rates in the country? Surely divorce and its underlying causes are more of a threat to the institution of marriage then people of the same gender taking advantage of their equal protections and wanting to be treated like everyone else? Surely the essence of tolerance and diversification are more important then hampering the efforts of two people of the same gender who love each other and want to make the commitment to be together? And certainly the equal protection of civil liberties is far more important then the Religious Right's crusade to discriminate against homosexuals under the guise of ‘morality'.

To all of you homophobes out there, who initiated or voted for ‘Defense of Marriage' legislation - shame on you! Put into perspective what's really important in this world and move on.

July 15, 2005

It's Not Just About Karl & Valerie

Along with all liberals, I would like to see Karl Rove burn as well. It's no secret that he is the source of much of the Bush Administration's dirty politicking. Whether he's Bush's brain or whether Dubya is Rove's penis, is a subject for another column. Liberal political pundits have already put in their two cents on this scandal, and I think I've read at least 100 stories on various web sites, and seen a number of television news stories as well. I particularly liked Anthony Wade's piece from OpEdNews.com that debunks the Republican talking points.

The angle of my story today is that this alleged crime is much bigger then just Karl Rove and Valerie Plame. The implications and ramifications of this alleged crime have a far-reaching impact.

It's Bigger Than Karl

Does anyone really think that Rove acted unilaterally in this decision to leak Valerie Plame's CIA undercover status to the press? Does anyone really think that neither the President nor the Vice-President were in the loop on that sleazy, slimy, dirty, scummy, underhanded, stab-in-the-back violation of the CIA non-disclosure law?

Not me. I don't think for one minute that Rove acted alone. If he acted alone and the President is not aware of what he was doing, that's even worse because it indicates that Bush has lost control of the White House & his administration.

I want Rove to burn, but I also want to see Bush and Cheney go down with him. Let's just wait until after the 2006 elections. We should keep the heat on long enough to sway the house over to the Democrats, and then turn it up full force. Then, when Bush & Cheney are BOTH impeached, we'll be able to get some sanity back in the Executive branch of our government.

It's Bigger Than Valerie

A right-wing friend of mine, in debating this issue (he must've read a few of
the RNC talking points), attempted to minimize this alleged crime in that it was only one person's identity that was compromised. So, let me put some perspective on the seriousness of this alleged crime.

Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative on a mission involving weapons of mass destruction (see
Robert Novak's original July 14, 2003 story). With her undercover identity compromised, so is the company front she was working at, along with every other agent associated with her, and every other agent who ever was associated with her. So don't anyone think that this alleged crime affects only her. But even if every one of those people were assassinated tomorrow, it still would not be as critical as one thing - the mission.

At the time of this alleged crime the Bush Administration was continuing to sell the concept that Iraq possessed WMD's. That was the justification that Bush used to bring us to war. It wasn't about Saddam Hussein's rape rooms or oppressive dictatorship, it was about Iraq's threat to the United States. As I see it either of two scenarios ensued:

Bush knew there were no WMD's (as the Downing Street documents have clearly evidenced), and he had no qualms about blowing a CIA mission involving them since there were no WMD's to find.
Bush honestly thought that there were WMD's in Iraq and he still decided to compromise a CIA mission to find them.

Either way, the results of Bush's decisions and actions have been nothing short of catastrophic. The pre-emptive attack on Iraq has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and drained our economy (even though the war profiteers have flourished). Either way this alleged crime is nothing short of treasonous. That's right - NOTHING SHORT OF TREASONOUS.

So, don't think that this scandal is just about Karl & Valerie. This scandal is about the Presidency and National Security of the United States of America. Bill Clinton's lie about a blowjob is nothing compared to the gravity of this scandal, and the slimy, scummy, hypocritical Republicans spent over $70m of our tax dollars trying to bring him down.

I urge you to contact your Senators & Congressional Representatives and pressure them to keep this issue, as well as the Downing Street Memos, at the forefront. An independent investigation should ensue unencumbered. At the risk of sounding like Tom Cruise - I WANT THE TRUTH!

July 08, 2005

Brace Yourself For Another 9/11

President Bush is in trouble. His poll numbers are down miserably. His agenda items are stagnant. The American public is squarely against him. Karl Rove has been fingered for the Valerie Plame outing. Scandals are starting to catch up with him. And, he & his administration are poised to go down in shame. Bush's war of aggression in Iraq is not going well, and all branches of the military are having trouble recruiting. There's no way Bush will get support for invading Iran (which we know he wants to do)... unless... there's another 9/11.

Bush needs another terrorist event on American soil in order to garner support for his imperialist agenda. So, you heard it here first... I predict another 9/11 within the next 2 years. Couldn't tell you when, where, or how. But, I can tell you why - because Bush needs it.

Flashback to August of 2001

In the month's following Bush's appointment to the Presidency of the United States, his support was waning. The country was not behind either him or his agenda, and he was destined to be a one-term, ineffective excuse of a president. No one was taking him seriously as he wasn't really ‘elected'.

Then something happened that changed the course of history. September 11, 2001 propelled George W. Bush into being a wartime president, complete with support from the American populace that he would never have garnered. Even international support came pouring in out of sympathy. Dubya stood at Ground Zero with rescue workers and spewed strong words of retaliation. His poll numbers went back up as he launched an attack on Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda and hunt down Osama bin Laden. To date he's failed at both.

In the years following, Bush and his cohorts have lied, cajoled, misrepresented, misled, fabricated, and coerced to build his presidency on the backs of Muslims. He's used fear as a tool, and along with his usual sleazy, dirty, despicable political trickery, managed to steal another election.

Bush's Latest Cheerleading

I could only listen to W talking for a short time during his recent speech at Fort Bragg before I had to change the channel. His incessant regurgitation of his ‘stay-the-course' policy just makes me nauseous. He kept insisting that we're doing the right thing and we just need to give it time.

So, let me ask you this, George... How much time? A year from now, when the American body count surpasses 2,500, the war-budget goes well into the Trillions, and the price of gas averages $3.50 a gallon as civil war continues in Iraq, will you still be saying we should be patient? At what point do you face the American people and admit you f**ked up?

Tides have turned

As the hunt for WMD's turned up empty, so did Bush's rationale for attacking Iraq. After Richard Clarke, Bob Woodward, Paul O'Neil and others all came out saying that Bush had intended to attack Iraq even before 9/11, he was able to brush it all off and blame the intelligence... until the Downing Street documents became public. Now we're at the point where Bush's support for his war, for his attack on Social Security, and much of his agenda has eroded. Everyone in the world now knows that he misled us into an unjust war. No one will support reinstating the Selective Service draft... No one will support attacking Iran.... unless... there's another attack on US soil... that he can pin on Iran. You can already see him laying the groundwork. Just like he goaded Iraq, he's doing the same thing to Iran with accusations and rhetoric to provoke a confrontation.

So hunker down my fellow Americans, it's going to be a long, long, time before this country heads in the ‘right' direction. Until then, keep your eyes in the sky and hope the next 9/11 doesn't kill any of your loved ones. And when it happens, think about what you're going to do. Are you going to rally behind the President because they tell you it's the Patriotic thing to do? Or, are you going to see the bigger picture and realize that it is Bush's agenda, arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence that brought it on in the first place, and call for a change in leadership?

Me? I'll just be saying, "I told you so". And if another 9/11 doesn't occur in the next 2 years, I'll just say, "Give it more time".

July 01, 2005

Reflections On "Independence"

As our July 4th holiday approaches, I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on the whole concept of ‘Independence'. What is ‘Independence'? What does it really mean? So many of our forefathers have fought and died so that we can be ‘independent'. Are we still ‘independent'? Have we lost any ‘independence'? Was the fight and loss of lives worth it?

This is such an important topic because it's the crux of our existence. It defines us. I like to refer back to the late 1700's when the struggle for our country's independence was in its inception (The American Revolutionary War). A foreign power was governing us and killing those who dissented. The King and his arrogant henchmen were killing everything and everyone in their path and ruled with an iron fist. They lied and deceived to portray the colonists as ‘separatists'. We fought back like the militants we were to resist the evil oppressors. We didn't want this arrogant, evil foreign power to rule us. We knew they were getting rich off our taxes.

Gee, it kind o' sounds familiar, doesn't it? Perhaps this ‘Independence Day' we should think of not just our own independence, but also the independence of those who are unjustly ruled.

Let's put ourselves into the shoes of an Iraqi citizen...

"We didn't exactly ‘like' Sadaam Hussein (probably not much more than those Westerners didn't like George W. Bush), but at least we had our existence. We had running water and electricity. Most of our relatives lived close by and the streets were relatively quiet. We had our shops and our businesses, and our day-to-day activities."

"All of the sudden this bully from the West comes along and bombs the shit out of our country, killing a whole bunch of my cousins. Two years later we still have only occasional running water and electricity. The streets are not safe so we stay indoors all the time cowering and hoping this hell ends. What cousins we have left have joined the resistance to fight off the evil occupiers. We may have ‘independence' from our evil dictator, but now we're ruled by evil occupiers."

The Quest To Conquer

How did we win the American Revolutionary war? Our foe was much bigger and stronger. The odds were stacked against us but somehow we prevailed. I think it was because we were fighting for our own homeland. We were fighting against oppression. Our enemies - they were in a foreign land fighting a war that was meaningless to them. They weren't fighting to protect themselves - they were fighting to conquer. George W. Bush didn't attack Iraq to protect The United States of America – he attacked Iraq to conquer it. There's really no other explanation because Iraq was never a threat to the USA, and George W. Bush knew it.

Now we're in a foreign land fighting to conquer it. History has proven repeatedly that this is impossible. History has proven repeatedly that those, when attempted to be conquered, will resist until their last dying breath. Therefore, the only way to successfully conquer a foreign land is to kill all of the dissidents. Is that George's plan? And of course we have to do this while instituting a new constitution that welcomes rights, liberties, democracy, and the freedom to dissent (like we have here).

So on this July 4th, as you're celebrating your independence, think of all of those who are still not free. Think of those who still suffer under the oppression of an evil ruler. Think of those who live under the military rule of an occupying force. Think of those who died for their independence. Think of the thousands & thousands of Iraqi people we've killed... so far.