There was an error in this gadget

Friday, December 26, 2008

A NEW LATIN AMERICAN TSUNAMI

"People don't give one shit [about Latin America]."
- Richard M. Nixon -

"Well, I learned a lot. You'd be surprised. They're all individual countries."
- Ronald Reagan -

"[Latin America] is a dagger pointed at the heart of America."
- Henry Kissinger -

Gone are the days we could smugly consider Central and South America "ours." The arrogance and ignorance which led then-Vice President Nixon to dismiss Cuba's Fidel Castro as "a communist" after meeting with him for only one hour in 1959 (and for President Eisenhower to blow off that meeting altogether to play golf), and for President Ronald Reagan to assume that Latin America was monolithic, was as fatally flawed then as that condescending attitude is today. Nixon and Reagan would shit hemorrhages if they could see the state of Latin America at present. For what was once an entire region wholly dominated by the United States is now one acting completely independent of, and often contrary to, the wishes of Washington. Nixon, Reagan, corporate America, and even Bush never realized it, but their short-sighted and self-centered policies have pushed nearly all of our southern neighbors into the varying degrees of anti-Washington frenzy they are now in. Unless we soon alter our course and apractice, we will feel negative consequences from this for many years to come.

One might assume that our current dicey scenario in Latin America is all the fault of Republican rule. That is not the case. Democratic Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson also contributed, albeit with GOP pressure and influence never far removed. The Cuban embargo, begun under Eisenhower (but tightened under Kennedy) remains in force to this very day. The ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion (another Eisenhower/CIA gem) was foolishly followed through upon by Kennedy. Both actions pushed Cuba further away from us and firmly into the outstretched arms of the Soviet Union. Johnson sent American troops into the Dominican Republic in 1965 to "restore order," but the end result was the same it has always been: The overthrow of a democratically-elected leftist government and its replacement by a military junta or repressive right-wing dictatorship beholden and subservient to the United States. There is a shamefully long list of countries in this region we have directly or indirectly interfered with just in my lifetime: Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Grenada, Panama, and Haiti. Our business interests and CIA have also worked diligently and clandestinely in Honduras and Mexico to influence their economies and politics. These actions have not spoken well for our supposed desire to spread freedom and democracy all across the globe, our moral and ethical standards, or our credibility. For, in much of Latin America (as in Iraq) we have often attempted to forcibly install democracy at the point of a gun. In extreme cases, we haven't even attempted to install a democracy, but have instead overthrown governments we felt would threaten our business or strategic interests, and then accepted whatever new, U.S.-friendly group came in to fill the power vacuum. In 1973, for example, our CIA (with Nixon White House backing) even directed the coup in Chile which resulted in the death of the first democratically-elected Marxist President, Salvador Allende. No matter that he won fair and square, or that he was committed to democracy and a free press: He threatened our business interests and was too friendly with Cuba. His replacement? The brutally repressive and murderous military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Shameful indeed. But, at last, there are clear signs today that Latin America as a whole is finally throwing off the burdensome yoke of Yankee domination in favor of radical reform designed to greatly reduce our influence and relieve longstanding, widespread poverty.

Since 1959, Fidel Castro's Cuba had been a lonely voice repeatedly calling out for an end to U.S. domination of Central and South America. In 1999 it was finally joined by Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Both countries nationalized American and foreign-owned companies and subsidiaries and began a long series of radical reforms designed to aid their poor and end the poor's exploitation by big business interests. Regrettably, Cuba's revolution evolved into a dictatorship, with murder and imprisonment of opponents and political prisoners, as well as suppression of press freedom. But Cuba now has universal education and a literacy rate of 96%, compared with an ILLITERACY rate of 95% when its 1959 revolution began. It also has universal health care in many ways superior to that received by the "free" citizens of many other Latin American countries! Thankfully, subsequent change in Venezuela and other Latin American nations has not been as brutal or undemocratic. In the past few years, Cuba and Venezuela have been joined by a tsunami of popularly-elected leftist governments dedicated to similar reforms. Their degree of radicalism varies from Cuba's, Venezuela's, and Bolivia's to more moderate forms found in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. The extent of this wave of change is phenomenally widespread, from Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua, to Evo Morales' Bolivia, to Rafael Correa's Ecuador, to Fernando Lugo's Paraguay, to Argentina's Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner, to Michelle Bachelet's Chile, and beyond. These are indeed monumental and exciting times south of our border! ALL of these governments are leftist, which would give both Nixon and Reagan severe indigestion. In fact, a recent conference of Latin American countries held in Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil, was attended by 33 like-minded nations and included our neighbor, Mexico. They called for a regional union of these countries (to EXCLUDE the United States), and for the U.S. to end its unnecessary 49 year embargo against Cuba. A number of these governments are now even courting direct Chinese investment. Such occurrences would have been unthinkable even 15-20 years ago!

Naturally, little of this amazing transformation has been covered in much detail by our corporatist, sensationalist media. They have been far too busy dazzling us with stories about the excesses of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, Sarah Palin's clothes and calendars, Barack Obama's beach physique and basketball prowess, and Joe the phony Plumber's attempts to secure a country music recording contract. They have severely underreported the breadth and scope of Latin American change. The overwhelming majority of Americans are as painfully ignorant about events in our own back yard as Sarah Palin is about foreign affairs generally. Unforgivable. Our media provides us with more info on the planet MARS than it does on our southern neighbors! This is disgraceful and cannot serve us well long term. For the days are gone where we can immorally prop up corrupt and friendly Latin American regimes doing our bidding and representing only the 1-2% wealthiest elite while the rest of the population struggles and suffers. Our government, media and people MUST begin developing a better knowledge and understanding of our southern neighbors. Continued ignorance and benign neglect of these countries is inexcusable and cannot continue.

We are NOT the center of the universe! Readers of this blog, and ALL Americans, can take the lead by Google-ing each Latin American country and each leader and learning more about them. Hopefully, with a new and more enlightened administration set to take office soon, our CIA will finally be directed to keep its nose out of Latin America's private affairs and will begin to aim its focus where it should, as in defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The incoming Obama administration can work wonders in Latin diplomacy right off the bat by ending the ridulous Cuban embargo. ALL of our friends and allies alike, including Canada, Mexico, and the European community, trade with Cuba. So does China. And so, at long last, should we. Our new administration can also encourage new and greatly expanded cultural, educational, and trade relations with Latin America. Properly doing so will restore good will and may also limit China's penetration and influence in our own neighborhood. We can even learn from these countries and gain from their experience, but not if they hate us or we have blinders on. Brazil, for example, took only about a decade to become fully energy independent, and achieved this long ago. Rather than fight the forces of change, as we have so often done in Latin America in the past, we now have a golden opportunity to embrace and ride the crest of this exciting new wave of Central and South American independence. Doing so will benefit all nations in this hemisphere immeasurably!

NEXT WEEK: AN END TO DIVISIVE WEDGE ISSUES!

Friday, December 19, 2008

YEAR-END MUSING

As we approach year's end, and the dawning of a new administration (thank God!) in 2009, I am left musing over some nagging American contradictions and paradoxes. For example, why is it:

We seem to jump to conclusions and employ polar opposites as we do? I mean, why do some say those of us who want to close Gitmo and end our military misadventures in Iraq are aiding terrorists, or surrendering to them? Isn't adding fuel to their fire aiding their cause and recruitment rather than defusing their argument against us? And why are those who call themselves pro-choice labeled as being pro-abortion? Many who are pro-choice HATE abortion, and it's clear they are not necessarily one and the same...

We are supposed to be the land of the free, but the religious right and social conservatives want our government to deny gays specific rights, and women the right to their own reproductive choices...

Ideally, we are supposed to invest in our "free enterprise" system (our businesses and the stock market) and, as the system prospers, we are supposed to prosper too, through the payment of dividends. Yet, in the case of Enron, and also Madoff, and many others, only a small handful (crooks) profited immensely from investing, and everyone else lost their ass. Does this mean our system of investment is no longer relevant, and that Wall Street and the stock market are parasites (with the rest of us mere unwitting pawns in their dirty little game) and that investing should now be avoided altogether?...

The Bush administration and Republicans take credit for our not having had another terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11? Why then have they consistently been lax about our border and port security? Why did they invade Iraq without real provocation, turning it into a magnet and rallying cry for Al Qarda? Could it be their REAL aims were to allow us to be flooded with cheap, illegal labor to further weaken our labor unions and keep workers' wages low? Could it also be they merely wanted close proximity to and/or outright control over Iraqi oil, or to establish a permanent military base in the region?...

We'll gladly help out a friend, relative, or neighbor who has lost his or her job, but the person across town on unemployment we DON'T know is a son of a bitch and a welfare cheat...

Many liberals proclaim stromg support for individual rights, but abortion advocates place a woman's right to abortion, even if for reasons of convenience, economy, or as the result of careless sexual practice, far ahead of the innocent, unborn child's right to be born and live...

Business wants bright, young, highly educated people for its labor force, but once an individual hits 40 or so, he or she is regarded as being overqualified or costing too much to employ...

We claim to be pro-democracy, but we have a habit of overthrowing democratically-elected governments we don't like and replacing them with military juntas or right-wing dictatorships. This happened in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973, and Grenada in 1983. In 2003, we overthrew a corrupt and murderous dictator in Iraq only to invade and occupy the country and forcibly install a democratic government at gunpoint...

Many conservatives call themselves "pro life" and oppose abortion under any circumstance, but many of these same people strongly support pre-emptive war and the death penalty...

It's scandalous and a crime when someone we don't know is nailed for tax evasion, but when we take deductions we're not really entitled to or cheat on our taxes, that's just "good business"...

Neocon Republicans and free trade Democrats told us for years that reducing taxes on big business and the wealthy, as well as engaging in unrestricted free trade would result in the creation of millions of high-paying jobs and a rising standard of living here, but what those things actually brought was millions of jobs exported out of this country, huge and expanding CEO salaries and perks, but stagnant or lower wages and reduced benefits for everyone else, as well as a reduced standard of living overall...

Many liberals profess to be for full freedom of speech, but when it comes to prayer of any kind in public schools, even voluntary, this should be forbidden...

We think those in higher income brackets should pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes than they do, but once we reach their income level, we scream for tax cuts...

Liberals judge a public servant by his or her public policy, and overlook their private behavior. Conservatives judge a public servant by his or her public AND private behavior, and often overlook their public policy (unless it relates to taxes)...

We tend to respect and admire the wealthy, regardless of how that wealth was obtained...

Many conservatives value education as a means to produce wealth. But they scorn those who use their education to create, think, or challenge the status quo, and call them "eggheads" or "intellectuals." They apparently want their children and students to be smart, but not TOO smart...

Many liberals value education as a means for achievement. They prize the attainment of titles, and some look down on those without higher education or titles.

Some of the strongest racists I know are blacks, and some of the most intolerant are liberals. Also, some of the most intolerant people I know are whites, and some of the biggest racists I know are conservatives...

Many conservatives want all people to succeed. They just don't want the government helping them TO succeed. They think success will invariably follow hard work, even though that's not always the case...

Many liberals want all people to succeed. They just don't want to pay for that success out of their own pocket, and some don't wish to associate with those who are trying to succeed...

Friday, December 12, 2008

SANTA'S BOZOS FOR 2008

Season's greetings, everyone! HO! HO! HO! That's the sound of Santa belly laughing at the record number of Bozos we have this year (stupid clowns doing outrageously stupid things which would in many cases be funny, except for the fact that they were sooooo utrageously stupid). It's hard to know where to even begin with 2008's outrageous crop, but I may as well start right at the top.

GEORGE W. BUSH-this clown lives in denial. He won't admit he was wrong to attack Iraq, and he didn't admit the country was in recession until a full YEAR after it had slipped into one! He gave us the dumbest Attorney General of all time, Alberto ("I don't seem to recall") Gonzales, and he still can't pronounce the word nuclear correctly. DEFINITELY a Bozo, and a big one!

JOHN McCAIN-Mr. "Straight Talk Express" took a severe detour and drove off a cliff when he and his crew began waging the most negative, vicious, and dishonest presidential campaign of all time. Were he Pinocchio, his schnozz would now stretch out way beyond the moon. But what REALLY made him a Bozo was his pick of the thoroughly unqualified Sarah Palin as his VP choice, and his embracing of the fraudulent Joe the Plumber as an example of a typical American to be admired by all.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON-this Democratic Representative from Louisiana was caught with $90,000 in bribe money neatly wrapped in his freezer. This love of cool cash earned him exactly what he deserved: Ouster, and replacement by a Republican in the fall election.

RUSH LIMBAUGH-he becomes a Bozo every time he opens his mouth, which is constantly. Why? Because he is a bigger liar than George W. Bush and Karl Rove combined, and that takes some doing! I have never heard this Bozo make a claim that wasn't grossly distorted, wildly exaggerated, or an outright lie.

THE FOX "NEWS" CREW (aka THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE PROPAGANDA BUREAU)-always quick with a right-slanted story, or to withhold or undereport stories which contradict them (or acknowledge liberals doing something correct), these people are all Bozos, from owner Rupert Murdoch to Sean Hannity to Chris Wallace to Bill O'Reilly to Dick Morris to the token liberals they have on from time to time. Their presentations are sometimes so fabricated they could rightfully be called "the National Enquirer of Television." Thankfully, at long last, their ratings seem to be slipping. I guess they could fool some of the people some of the time but couldn't fool all of the people all of the time...

ELIOT SPITZER-this Democratic Bozo just couldn't keep his pants zipped up. While Attorney General, and later even as Governor of New York, he engaged the services of high-priced prostitutes and may have even paid for them with campaign cash! We're all used to politicians screwing US once they've gotten our money, but this is the first time in recent memory supporters paid for a POLITICIAN to be screwed! Hats off to the media for exposing this Bozo. He got what he deserved: Resignation and replacement.

LARRY CRAIG-first this clown gets arrested in a Minneapolis airport restroom for soliciting gay sex from an undercover cop in the next stall, by stepping all over the cop's shoes and waving his hand repeatedly beneath the stall. Next, he pleads guilty. Then, he attempts to withdraw and overturn his guilty plea, saying he has a "wide stance" when seated on the pot and that he wasn't soliciting sex at all. YUH, RIGHT...ladies and gentlemen, this guy is a REAL Bozo!

MITCH McCONNELL (KY), DAVID VITTER (LA), BOB CORKER (TN), RICHARD SHELBY (AL), TOM COBURN (OK), JIM DeMINT (SC), AND JEFF SESSIONS (AL)-these clowns, each of whom is a Republican Senator who hates organized labor and/or has foreign auto manufacturing plants (but no American-owned ones) operating in his state, led the charge to deny the financial rescue of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. They blamed our auto industry's woes on the unionized auto workers being paid too much, but said nothing about the vastly overpaid auto executives, or the way these executives have failed to keep pace with foreign competitors' more fuel efficient and better quality products. These misguided Senators are deliberately trying to destroy the United Auto Workers union. For wanting to roll back American workers' wages, and for trying to bankrupt our Big 3 (effectively benefitting foreign manufacturers), these Senators are GIGANTIC, COLOSSAL Bozos!

JEREMIAH WRIGHT-Obama's old reverend really knows how to deliver a fire and brimstone speech...and burn himself in the process! Regrettably, after a long and admirable career of charity work and service to the poor, the public now regards him as an extremist flake. He could easily have gotten his points across about America's racial injustice and aggression in Iraq without publicly saying God should damn America. America encompasses a broad cross section. Should nurses, charity workers, and his congregation be damned too? For this rash statement, and for repeatedly making other controversial statements to the media early in Barack Obama's campaign, this old minister definitely deserves the title of Bozo.

MICHELE BACHMANN-this 6th district Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota is a Bozo because she has a pattern of shooting her mouth off and saying something stupid first, thinking later, and then denying what she stupidly said in the first place (or claiming she was misquoted). Her latest Bozo statement was saying the media should run an expose on those members of Congress who may hold anti-American views. Subjective witch hunt, anyone? Because she has a pattern of making these dumb statements and will undoubtedly do so again, she is a PERENNIAL Bozo!

RUDY GIULIANI-this guy is a very sick joke. A mediocre mayor, all he did during 9/11 was say the right things and make himself abundantly present before TV cameras. The fact that he was aware of the incompatability between police and fire radios years prior to the disaster and did nothing about it led to confusion and unnecessary deaths ON 9/11. Yet this self-serving buffoon tried to tell us HE would be the best (only?) man capable of saving us from another attack, so that qualified him to bePresident. His third (current) wife was given free city car shuttling service to rendezvous points while he was still married to and living with his second wife. Now this goof thinks he'll run for Senator in 2010. Completely full of himself, this guy is pure, 100% Bozo!

JOHN EDWARDS-how this guy could trash a wonderful career of service to the poor and as a former Senator and potential future President to have an affair behind his lovely wife's back shortly after she went into remission from cancer is waaaaay beyond me. This guy is a DISGUSTING Bozo!

SARAH PALIN-this airhead with the severely aggravating voice just won't shut up, and keeps on lying and babbling! She is VERY irritating, VERY shallow, VERY divisive, VERY uninformed, and VERY unqualified for national office. She is painfully ignorant of history, law, geography, and world and current events. Yet this delusional little prima donna thinks she's qualified to be President come 2013. Folks, Sarah Palin is a CERTIFIED Bozo (or BoZETTE, if you choose. Personally, I'd like to turn her into a CREPES SUzette so I'd never have to hear that shrill, irritating voice ever again)!

JOE THE PLUMBER-this clown is too dumb to know that his undeserved 15 minutes of fame ended much longer than 15 minutes ago, and that he should now just finally shut up and go away! In the first place, the guy is a fraud. He told Obama in front of cameras that he was a plumber (NOT LICENSED at the time) who wanted to buy his boss's business worth $250,000 (NOT TRUE). Then, it turned out he had a $1,200 TAX LIEN against him at the time. Yet Maverick McCain and his sidekick Palin quickly tried to portay him as an average, everyday American folk hero being victimized by unfair, mythical Democratic tax plans. Now this buffoon thinks he's qualified to run for Congress in 2010. That goes way beyond clown, and should be considered court jester material. For being so dishonest and delusional, this guy, too, is a certified Bozo.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH-this crooked Democratic Governor of Illinois showed a lot of arrogance and greed when he brazenly tried to sell off President Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder for his own personal gain. This dreamer even had fantasies of ending up on Obama's cabinet or running a Warren Buffett-sponsored foundation at a high salary. It's clear this fool never understood what being a public servant entails. All he could master was being a cheap, crooked politician. In doing so, he easily became this year's biggest Bozo of all!

Friday, December 5, 2008

GRIEVOUS GOP MISTAKES: A CHRONOLOGY

"Four fifths of all our troubles would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still."
- Calvin Coolidge -

"The United States of America does not have friends; it has interests."
- Dwight Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles -

"The press is the enemy."
- Richard M. Nixon -

With the exception of its very earliest days, just before and during Abraham Lincoln's administration, and for a brief time at the turn of the 20th Century during Teddy Roosevelt's terms in office, the Republican Party has acted mainly in the interests of big business and social conservatives. It has advocated a minimal role for government, preferring to let business and industry (particularly their owners) determine much of the course of the nation's affairs. As such, the party has not generally supported the needs of the majority of the country who were workers and small farmers. This minimalist approach to government and the support for a small minority of the wealthier, upper elites has led to an undeniable pattern of the Republican Party being consistently on the wrong sides of many, many issues and/or mismanaging the country's affairs. Below, in chronological order, is a listing of numerous grievous mistakes the Grand Old Party has made since the end of the Civil War in 1865.

1867 - Radical Republicans take over the party. They immediately turn their backs on assassinated President Lincoln's desire to mercifully reassimilate the Old South back into the Union. They enact harsh policies against ex-Confederates (many of whom had been southern Democrats before the war). These penalties included stripping them of voting rights and the ability to hold public office. They instead set up unqualified newly-freed blacks and corrupt northern businessmen to govern the South under the banner of the Republican Party. While they did free poor blacks from slavery, they provided no education or training for them to enable a seamless merge into white cultural society. Now free, buth with their former masters bankrupt and powerless, most blacks migrated to urban centers and settled into slums, barely being able to eke out a substandard living doing unskilled and often backbreaking labor at very low wages.

1869 - Republicans begin to become increasingly allied with and dominated by big business and banks. Bribes and extortion run rampant, culminating in the Credit Mobilier scandal of 1872.

1870s-present - Republicans and conservatives begin to side with big business against the formation of labor unions, and, once unions are established in 1935, actively try to suppress them.

1880s - Huge corrupt trusts are set up by big banks, big business and industry, and are supported and aided by Republicans.

1919 - GOP Senators play a heavy hand in preventing the US from joining the League of Nations, leaving that body weak and ineffective. Its eventual failure helps lead to World War II. Social conservatives in the party push through Prohibition, one of the worst and most impractical laws ever passed in the history of the human race.

1920s - Republican pro business, laissez-faire, anti regulatory policies (especially concerning the stock market) lead to terrible rural poverty and lay the seeds for 1929's Great Depression.

1935-1937 - Republicans oppose the adoption of government programs like Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Welfare, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Recovery Act (NRA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) - basically, any government-sponsored program designed to provide federal aid or employment to needy individual citizens. The GOP took the standpoint that government had no jurisdiction in those areas and that only private enterprise did. The problem was, of course, that businesses were too broke to provide those opportunities and SOMETHING had to be done for millions of hungry citizens. Thank God the GOP's numbers in Congress were too weak to prevent passage of all this beneficial legislation!

1947 - The GOP passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which weakened and restricted labor unions.

1950 - Republicans strongly support Sen. Joe McCarthy's infamous anti-communist witvh hunts, painting many Americans (especially Democrats) as soft on combatting communism. They use these accusations as a political tool to unseat Democrats and get themselves elected. These witch hunts wrongly accused many innocent people, ruining their lives and destroying their careers.

1953 - Ultra-conservative Secretary of State John Foster Dulles directs the CIA to help overthrow the democratically-elected pro-Islamic Mossadegh government in Iran, replacing it with the brutally repressive, pro-western Shah of Iran. This turns many Iranians against the US, the negative effects of which will become repeatedly evident years later.

1954 - John Foster Dulles again engineers the overthrow of a democratically-elected government, this time a leftist government in Guatemala, replacing it with a right-wing government more to his liking. Coincidentally (?), his brother, Allen Dulles, just happens to be on the board of directors of American Fruit Company, which had large holings in Guatemala and felt threatened by the leftist government. Dulles also prevents Vietnam from holding a national election, fearing that leftist nationalist Ho Chi Minh would win. So Dulles maneuvers to get Vietnam split into two countries, with Ho Chi Minh ruling the north and US-installed pro-western playboy Bao Di controlling the south. This lays the seeds for America's future bloody 15 year involvement in Vietnam.

1954-1965 - Many Republicans ally themselves with conservative southern Democrats to oppose and filibuster against major civil rights legislation.

1965 - Republicans oppose LBJ's Medicare and Medicaid programs and the entire War on Poverty program in general. These programs have benifitted millions of needy citizens since their inception.

1970- present - Republican Presidents, beginning with Richard Nixon and his Supreme Cort appointments Warren Burger and then William Rehnquist, begin their long attempt to pack the Supreme Court with conservative, pro-Republican justices. The Republicans call these types of justices "strict constructionists", who interpret the law strictly on precedent and Constitutional principle. But what justices like these have really done is strengthened the Executive Branch of Congress, effectively weakening the power of both the Legislative Branch (Congress) and the Judicial Branch. This has resulted in an erosion of civil liberties. It has also enabled corporations and special interest groups to exert more control over government and the population as well. The Nixon-Kissinger CIA overthrows the neutral Cambodian government of Norodom Sihanouk in favor of a pro-US military junta headed by Gen. Lon Nol. The US also begins illegal bombing and military incursions in Cambodia in an effort to choke off North Vietnam's military supply lines to the south.

1971 - Nixon orders a break-in at the Brookings Institute and attempts to steal files of anti-war critic Daniel Ellsberg. Nixon also approves illegal secret wiretapping of political opponents.

1972 - The Watergate era begins when Nixon operatives are caught breaking into Democratic Party national headquarters during this election year. Nixon is implicated in a massive deliberate cover-up, but is strongly supported by a hardcore group of conservatives and Republicans all the way up to his resignation in 1974.

1981 - Republicans, led by Ronald Reagan, break the power of labor unions by firing all striking air traffic controllers and by engaging in numerous union-busting activities. They also begin passing tax cuts for the rich.

Early 1990s-present - Republicans launch support for various unrestricred "free trade" initiatives, resulting in millions of high-paying American jobs being shipped to Mexico and Asia. This lowers our wage levels, increases pollution levels in foreign countries, and produces massive and record trade deficits. In effect, we become slowly poorer and the other countries become richer.

1993-1994 - Republicans spread disinformation about the Clinton national health care plan, effectively killing it.

1995 - A new breed of radical Republicans, the ultra-conservative neo-conservative (Neocon) faction, gains control of the Republican Party and both houses of Congress.

Late 1990s-2005 - Republicans begin a push to privatize Social Security and force through rollbacks on regulation of banks, mortgage companies, energy speculators, and many other businesses.

2001-2009 - Republican President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney unconstitutionally expand the powers of their respective offices in a deliberate effort to make them barely accountable to Congress. Congressional Republicans act as their rubber stamp and do little to stop them. They appoint business leaders as the heads of agencies designed to regulate their businesses, ensuring that government regulation will be for the benefit of businesses rather than for the public as a whole. Bush awards unqualified Texas loyalists and old buddies important administrative jobs. Cheney meets secretly with energy industry representatives and fuel prices skyrocket. Bush politicizes the Justice Department by stocking it with right-wing ideologues. Both Bush and Cheney refuse to comply with legal Congressional attempts at oversight. Republican congresspersons do nothing.

2002-2005 - Bush and Congressional Republicans pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations (including oil companies), and very little for the rest of the country. Torture, and rendition (kidnapping and transferring to secret locations in other countries) of Afghan and other prisoners of war begins. US military outpost in Guantanamo, Cuba, is set up as a holding and torture center for captured enemy combatants, in clear violation of the 1954 Geneva Convention. Republicans pass the so-called Patriot Act, enabling the government to illegally wiretap and obtain personal information on private citizens. Habeas Corpus rights are suspended. Opponents are branded as unpatriotic or aiding terrorism.

2003-2005 - Bush, Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld push for pre-emptive war with Iraq, wildly supported by congressional Republicans as well as a number of coerced Democrats. They greatly increase the number of private contractors supplying military services, awarding non-bid contracts to friendly contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater, who have previously been large campaign donors. Bush, again with overwhelming congressional Republican support, begins intercepting cheaper Canadian pharmaceutical drugs at the border, a move which hurts the elderly on fixed incomes but benefits giant US pharmaceutical companies selling their goods at a price double that of foreign countries.

2004 - Republicans, courtesy of political strategist Karl Rove, utilize a wide variety of divisive wedge issues to isolate and defeat their opponents in the general election. They also employ the use of deliberate disinformation about their opponents, deliberate LIES, a process repeated with less success in 2006 and 2008.

2008 - In the final months of his presidency, Bush grants leases to permit drilling for oil in previously protected wildlife areas and weakens government regulations over a number of industries, resulting in relaxed pollution standards. He also implants a number of right-wing key employees in regulatory agencies, making it difficult for future Presidents to gain effective control over rechanneling of these agencies once he leaves office. At their convention, Republicans jubilantly chant "Drill, baby, drill!", in support of more oil consumption rather than endorsing conservation, higher gas mileage requirements, and development of alternate energy sources.

From nearly day one, the history of Republican rule has meant favoritism for concentrated capital and less-than-desirable results for many ordinary citizens. This chronic favoritism and pattern of devastating mistakes and mismanaged governance have not spoken well for the Republican Party. They have demonstrated a repeated pattern of inability to effectively govern. They should therefore never again gain power without first undergoing a massive transformation in their philosophy and method of governing!

Friday, November 28, 2008

WHY I CAN'T BE A REPUBLICAN (III)

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders...all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
- Nazi Marshal Hermann Goering -

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, the people will eventually come to believe it."
- Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels -

"REPITITION DOES NOT TRANSFORM A LIE INTO THE TRUTH."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

Intentional or not, the Republican Party all too often follows the practices of the above quoted Nazis: It lies. Blatantly. Over and over, it has resorted to huge distortions, smears, and misstatements rather than face and discuss issues head on. Recent examples have included false insinuations that three-time Purple Heart recipient John Kerry didn't deserve his awards (and was therefore unfit to be President), that former Senator Max Cleland was soft on terrorism and of questionable patriotism, therefore stealing his Georgia Senate seat for Saxby Chambliss (even though Cleland had left 3 limbs on a Vietnam battlefield for his country), and that Barack Obama was first, a Muslim, then one who "pals with terrorists," and then a "socialist." Each of these examples was a deliberate lie told ruthlessly and repeatedly as a tactic used to win elections. This modern-day style of dirty campaigning was begun by Republican strategist Lee Atwater in the late 1980s and has been carried on by his protege Karl Rove in 2000 and 2004, and his protege Steve Schmidt in 2008. Naturally, all the right wing water carriers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly are always quick to jump in and parrot the latest Republican allegation. Even the religious right gets involved with these lies. Just the other day, I saw a pre-election video put out by far-right preacher Dr. Hilton Sulton. This conservative zealot said, in effect, that GOD CREATED AMERICA on Christian principles; that God is perfect and good; that those clamoring for "change" are therefore violating God's will. The inference here, of course, was that a vote for Barack Obama was a vote against God. How utterly preposterous!!! First, there is NO mention of America ANYWHERE in ANY Bible! Second, it was the Founding Fathers who specifically founded this country, NOT God, and they set up elections and three branches of government for the very purpose of EFFECTING change and in anticipation of FUTURE change! I had to laugh at how wacked-out and blatantly partisan (and dishonest) this supposedly holy Dr. Sulton was! His and his party's lack of honesty, and the Machavellian "end justifies the means" mentality they display, add to the long and growing list of reasons why I can't accept Republicanism.

I have already amply illustrated how the Republicans do not truly represent the economic or moral values and interests of the majority of the country. This explains why they must so often resort to deceit and even character assassination to get their candidates elected. Just recently, right-wing liar and radio commentator Rush Limbaugh began referring to the current economic downturn as "the Obama recession." In fact, Obama has had nothing to do with it. He is not yet President, and it was caused by, and worsened by, the application of neocon deregulatory economic principles and practices begun under Bill Clinton and greatly expanded under George W. Bush! However, truth and facts mean little to Limbaugh or many of his hardcore Republican followers. They believe what they want to, period. And all they want to believe is that which they make up.

Republican folly was personnified in the selection of Sarah Palin as their VP choice last time, and their phony manufacture of Joe the (fake) Plumber as a sort of everyday citizen folk hero being victimized by Democrats. The GOP transparently grabbed Palin for VP, thinking that disaffected Hillary Clinton voters would flock to the ticket simply because she was a woman. It didn't matter to these illogical Republicans that Palin was woefully underqualified to hold national office, or that her political views and Clinton's are 180 degrees apart. They tried to sell Palin as a likeable, down-home, average hockey mom just trying to make ends meet like everybody else (even though the Palins' family income was well above average). With Joe the (fake) plumber, they tried to use him as an example of a hardworking everyday American worker who would suffer loss under an incorrectly presented Obama tax plan. They and their phony character said that Joe was a plumber, wanted to buy his boss's business worth $250,000, but wouldn't be able to under Obama's tax plan because he would be taxed too heavily. It didn't matter that this Joe WASN'T a plumber, nor was he currently employed, nor was he trying to buy a business, that he would do BETTER under Obama's tax plan than under Republican McCain's, and that he was actually a TAX CHEAT with a $1,200 tax lien against him. In both cases, the Republican Party actively and deceitfully tried to sell voters an IMAGE rather than provide real SUBSTANCE for the campaign. Naturally, these fraudulent attempts to sway the election in their favor failed, as VOTERS DO NOT APPRECIATE BLATANT DECEIT NOR DO THEY APPRECIATE HAVING THEIR INTELLIGENCE SO THOROUGHLY INSULTED!

Republicans also love to employ overly simplistic, half-truth, "polar opposites" as a means of attacking their opponents. People and candidates who are pro-choice (meaning they believe it is a woman's personal choice, rather than the state's as to whether or not to have an abortion) are inaccurately and unfairly labeled "pro-abortion" by Republicans. Those who oppose abortion under any circumstance (even though many of these same people support pre-emptive war and the dealth penalty) are errantly and paradoxically referred to as "pro-life" by the Republicans. Those who believe trade with other countries should be mutually beneficial and subject to specific common sense terms and conditions, are labeled as "protectionists" by Republicans (even in cases where these people have not advocated protective tariffs or heavy restrictions). But - those favoring completely unrestricted trade with other countries, no matter how one-sided or foolhardy the arrangement struck may be, are called "free traders" by conservatives and Republicans. These, of course, are deliberate distortions and overly simplistic misrepresentations designed to make voters select preferred Republican candidates.

The Republicans also have a penchant for anti-intellectualism. This is because the intellectual approach of careful examination, analysis, and discussion runs contrary to their preference for simplistic slogans, half-truths, and snap-judgments. Republicans generally shun the best and the brightest and derisively call them "elitists." They apparently prefer morons who can't spell (e.g. Dan Quayle - "potatoe"), can't properly pronounce words (e.g. George W. Bush and Sarah Palin - "nukeyulur" and "Eye-rack"), or those who are addicted to undignified and unsophisticated "you betcha", "darn tootin'", "by golly", and chop-the-g-off-every-ing-word stupid colloquialisms like Sarah Palin. Utterly pathetic. Embarrassing, too.

All parties and political campaigns are guilty of misrepresentation and exaggeration. But the Republicans have a knack for going way over the top with theirs. Their vicious smears and lies are inexcusable. Their favoritism of the wealthy and big business over ordinary citizens is shameful. Their intolerance, rigidiy, lack of diversity, militarism, and refusal to recognize government as a good and necessary force to protect average citizens afrom the excesses of concentrated capital are all fatal flaws. All that plus their use of fear and mean-spiritedness are clear-cut reasons why this is not the same party which once put Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt into office, and is therefore undeserving of support.

You can judge a group, just like a person, by the company they keep. In the case of the Republican Party, their notable members have included the likes of red-baiting Joe McCarthy, Richard M. ("I am not a crook") Nixon, Spiro (I WAS a crook, so I resigned) Agnew, Dick (I'll do whatever I damn well please, Constitution or no Constitution, and to hell with YOU) Cheney, Dan (DUH!) Quayle, Lee Atwater, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Alberto ("I'm afraid I don't recall") Gonzales, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Michele (the media should expose every member of Congress who may be anti-American) Bachmann, the hateful, vicious, venomous, ever-lying Ann Coulter, Mary Matalin, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Bill O'Reilly. That's quite a rogues list. These members, together with all of the reasons I have spelled out over these past 3 blogs, are perfect examples of why I can't, and will never be, a Republican.

NEXT WEEK - GRIEVOUS GOP MISTAKES: A CHRONOLOGY

Saturday, November 22, 2008

WHY I CAN'T BE A REPUBLICAN (II)

"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
- John Stuart Mill -

"The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good."
- John Locke -

Last week I gave my economic views on why I can't be a Republican. This week I will cover other areas, such as the Republicans' inherent fear, rigid adherence to ideology, contradictory behavior, and faulty logic.

Republicans, especially those of the conservative persuasion, are a fearful, cynical, and suspicious lot. They are determined to keep things as they are (or return them to what they once were, in what they perceive were simpler, and therefore better, times). They generally support strong authority and control (EXCEPT in the area of economics, where they want absolute, unquestioned freedom to make money however they see fit). As such, in areas of economic pecking order, social mores, and the legal system, they usually always support the status quo. They are suspicious of all but the tried and true. In my view, a consistent viewpoint of that type breeds ignorance, complacency, and even regression. Republicans often cynically attack new ideas and perpetrators of such with sinister-sounding names in an attempt to convince others that these purveyors of change are bad and undesirable, and so are their ideas. Indeed, the old adage "only ants and savages kill strangers" could easily be amended to say "only ants, savages, and Republicans kill strangers." This is why they once called the aristocratic FDR "a traitor to his class" for launching innovative and badly needed New Deal reforms during the Great Depression in the 1930s. It is why they are calling Barack Obama a "socialist" today. For Republicans often prefer to do nothing, or take small, limited action when the times and situations demand bold moves. In doing so, they often fight that which is fair and just, illogically defying progress.

Ronald Reagan once advised Republicans that, "the 11th Commandment is, thou shalt not criticize fellow Republicans." John F. Kennedy once likened the party to a herd of compliant circus elephants, each perfectly content to follow the other by the tail in a circle under the circus tent. Both men illustrated a serious flaw in Republican mindset. Their rigidity and hostility to progressive chasnge has not served them well. In the 1930s, for example, they were horrified to see the federal government enact measures like Unemployment Compensation, Social Security, and permitting labor unions to come into being. They opposed ANY effort by government to aid individuals rather than institutions. In a time of great need, with the public desperately clamoring for any kind of help, the Republicans were dead wrong in clinging to the old, failed ways by opposing the new. In the 1960s, they were so glued to the idea of states' rights that it led them to oppose long overdue federal implementation of fair, just, and much-needed civil rights legislation. Their short-sighted stubborness caused them to place adherence to an abstract principle before the combatting of abuses on blacks and other minorities, or ensuring their rights as citizens! Stupid is as stupid does, I guess. In the 1990s, the Republicans fought the Clintons' desire for a fair and universal national health care plan. Even today, with fully 1 in 7 of us not insured, or severely underinsured, these same Republicans and conservatives will fight Obama's universal health care plan tooth and nail. They will place as a priority instead the need for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and the medical establishment to continue making exorbitant profits before the need of individuals to receive equally good health care. The United States is the ONLY major industrialized country in the world without universal health care. Even poor CUBA has such a system! So once again, the Republicans are dead wrong on this issue and I cannot support their folly.

Republican and conservative paranoia has repeatedly led to violations of guaranteed citizen rights all through our history. Today's wiretapping, secret surveillance of private bank records, and illegal forced imprisonment of those suspected of "terrorism" without charge or trial are horrible overreactions to 9/11 and far exceed the similar witch hunts of the anti-Communist 1950s McCarthy period. Again, give a paranoid Republican an inch and he will always take a mile. Today's batch of conservative fools has surely confused patriotism with repression, and there is no place for this kind of mindset or actions like these anywhere in America, now or ever!

The Republicans love to consider themselves the party of morality. Time after time, this pompous attitude has led them, in fact, to IMMORAL actions of hate, bigotry, oppression, and fostering greed. They have, in their own twisted application of the book of Genesis, recreated God in THEIR own image and likeness. The Rev. Jim Wallis, publisher of Sojourners magazine, accurately and eloquently points out that "God is NOT pro-rich, pro-war, and pro-Republican." The problem is, today's conservative Republicans are ignorant of all of those truisms. They actually believe it was right for us to attack and invade Iraq without provocation, murdering millions of innocent Iraqi citizens as a result. They actually believe it was right for us to impose democracy on the Iraqis at gunpoint. In my view, aggression is aggression, and murder is murder, so this is where I definitely part company with the Republicans. Their insane economic policy of rewarding the rich and effectively penalizing the poor and everyone else runs directly counter to the Bible's repeated exhortations to look out for and care for the poor. Many conservatives' and Republicans' hatred and mistrust of Muslims, gays, liberals, various minorities, and women having abortions also runs counter to biblical teachings. The Republican inaction on abortion is a huge example of hypocrisy. From 2001-2007, Republicans and conservatives controlled most statehouses, the Congress, the Presidency, and had a working majority on the Supreme Court. Yet they passed NO laws and made NO legal pronouncements banning abortion, even though they repeatedly publicly proclaimed that is what they stood for. They didn't even TRY to outlaw abortion. Instead, they cynically USED abortion as a political tool and a weapon against social liberals and Democrats in order to gain office and maintain political power. They fired up and used well-intentioned religious people all across the country to do their bidding and cement their power. Yet their shameful opportunism led to nothing. Absolutely reprehensible!

These are more solidly good reasons why I can't be a Republican. I will lay out even more next week.

Friday, November 14, 2008

WHY I CAN'T BE A REPUBLICAN (I)

"Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism."
- Hubert H. Humphrey -

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

I can't, and will undoubtedly never be, a Republican. The Democratic Party has made its share of mistakes over the years to be sure, and it will do so again. It has not always been fully honest and forthright in its presentations to the voting public. But in my lifetime, and for the 40 or so years preceding my birth, the Democrats have striven to make government a beneficial force for the majority of the population, especially for the poor, working, and middle classes. The same cannot be said for the Republicans.

I COULD have been a Republican once: In Lincoln's day, or again in the Teddy Roosevelt era. In those all too brief times, encompassing a total of roughly 12 years, the Republicans were actually a progressive party, 180 degrees from the dinosaurs they are today. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt believed in a strong federal government, as do I. They believed government has the duty and moral obligation to protect average citizens from the excesses of greedy, self-serving reactionary forces and institutions. I share that belief. Lincoln's GOP abolished the evil institution of slavery. Teddy Roosevelt broke up the corrupt big business trusts of his day, which were then, much like now, exerting an undue stranglehold on government and the economy. He established numerous regulatory agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that business was operating under fair standards, and for the benefit of the people instead of just for itself. He made sure that concentrated capital did not reign supreme and that it was accountable to the public interest. An avid conservationist, he was also responsible for the establishment of our National Park system. I could and would have been an ardent Republican in each of those times, but not between them or since.

After Lincoln's assassination, the Democrats were in disarray. They had sympathized to a degree with the agrarian south and had derived their support there. With the south in ruins following the Civil War and many former Democrats or southern leaders now barred from holding public office, the Republicans became the prominent national political party. This marked the end of the first progressive and liberal bent of the Republican Party. The GOP allied itself with northern industrialists, big business, and bankers. It fell under the domination of often corrupt conservative business interests. Instead of a strong federal government, the GOP now favored the individual states having the greater say on issues, especially the economic ones. This continued from roughly 1868 until Roosevelt's presidency began in 1901, and resumed in about 1910 through the present day. Since the 1880s or so, the party has exhibited a distinct bias for big business rather than individuals, and has opposed and fought organized labor every step of the way. Republican administrations have been marked by repeated scandals, from 1872's Credit Mobilier example, to the early 1920s' Teapot Dome gem, to the Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, and mortgage banking scandals of the George W. Bush era. Though not caused exclusively by Republicans, the party's constant pressure for total freedom for big business has repeatedly bred a climate of business excess and corruption. In all cases, business benefitted and the mass public was victimized. I cannot support the Republican idea of a totally unregulated market. Such policies have failed us time and again. They have meant freedom for the wealthy and restricted economic gain for everyone else. They have consistently led to unfair economic repression for workers and the poor. Today, this has manifested itself in skyrocketing CEO salaries and benefits coupled with frozen or declining worker wages (even in the face of rising labor productivity and corporate profits) and the exporting of millions of good paying American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets overseas. This insistence on a hands-off policy for government regarding business has been disastrous time after time. In the 1800s, its hallmark was miserably low wages, very long hours, and near slave labor conditions for factory workers, women, and even young children. In the 1920s, these policies helped create the Great Depression, which in turn led to World War II. Today, they have resulted in a falling standard of living, collapse of financial markets, and may even lead to another depression. The net result of these laissez-faire economic policies is always the same: Redistribution of wealth upwards instead of evenly across the board. They also always mean hardship for all but a priviliged few wealthy elite. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans' use (or misuse) of government always benefits the few who need no benefit rather than the many, who do.

Republicans love to say they support free enterprise, but that is not at all true. What they REALLY practice is state-sponsored capitalism, a sort of fascism-lite. Corporate welfare could be another term used. They absolutely hate the idea of government giving economic aid to down-and-out individuals, but they are happy to accept government subsidies, government contracts, and even government bailouts for business, as well as huge, disproportionate tax cuts for big business and the wealthy. It's economic intercourse, to be sure, but all except the rich are the ones continually getting f_cked by it, all the time.

These are merely my ECONOMIC reasons for whi I can't be a Republican. My social and political reasons will follow in the next blog or two. Feel free to comment below if you like. Thank you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

FOR PRESIDENT:

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK THE ACCURACY OF ALL POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

There is never a perfect candidate for President. No one candidate has all the correct answers. Once in office, he or she will invariably make mistakes. That is inevitable human nature. However, this year, there is a clear difference and choice between candidates for a number of compelling reasons, and I have made mine.

After 8 years of unrestricted free trade, economic policies brazenly favoring the wealthy and big business (including disastrous deregulation and much corporate welfare through numerous unquestioned, non-bid military contracts); a political and domestic policy based on fear, blatant partisanship, the curtailment of rights granted under our Constitution, and overreaching expansion of the powers of the Executive Branch; a foreign policy predicated on pre-emptive military strikes and non-communication with hostile powers, plus a very expensive, unnecessary, and unpopular war in Iraq, more than 80% of us correctly feel our country has been on the wrong track. We crave and are in desperate need of real change, not just the cosmetic type some would offer.

Unrestricted free trade has caused entire plants and millions of good paying American jobs to leave this country for China, India, Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, and other countries. It has led to wages in this country becoming stagnant or even declining. Productivity here has risen steadily in the past 8 years, but wages have not kept pace. The costs of energy, health care, pharmaceuticals, food, and education have skyrocketed, with no relief in sight. Huge tax breaks given to the wealthy and to large corporations have not resulted in the creation of millions of high paying new jobs here, as President Bush and his neoconservative Republican allies promised early in his first term. Instead, corporate excesses and greed have become rampant. Our overall standard of living has fallen, not risen. We are NOT better off today than we were 8 years ago! The "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive military strikes (that we have the right to attack other countries without provocation if we consider them to be a threat) has isolated us from the rest of the world and damaged our relations with them. As applied in Iraq, it has all but destroyed any moderate Arab or Muslim support we may have once had in the Middle East. It is shameful behavior more analogous to Napoleon, Hitler, or Stalin than to that of Washington, Jefferson, or Wilson. It has proven to be economically unsustainable. Worse yet, it may encourage similar future action from countries like Russia or China.

John McCain is a passionate man who tremendously loves this country. He is a true-life hero, having suffered greatly but having stood firm during years of torture and captivity in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. He is a staunch supporter of the right to life for the innocent unborn. Yet he is also very militaristic and an avowed advocate of the Bush doctrine. He is viewed as bellicose and pushy by those outside our border. On QUALITY OF LIFE issues, he usually sides with the wealthy and big business, whose policies and practices the past 8 years have diminished the quality of life for the majority of us, who are in the categories of middle class or poor. He advocates more huge tax cuts for the rich and large corporations. His tax plan gives only very, very minimal tax cuts for those earning less than $111,646 per year (which is where the overwhelming majority of us in the country are). FOR A DETAILED TABLE OF BOTH CANDIDATES' TAX PLANS, jot down and go to this website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/06/09/ST2008060900950.html.

McCain himself has often looked tired, crotchety, and confused during the course of his campaign, He has mixed up important details like the history of and differences between Iraq's Sunni and Shia populations. He has shown an impulsive erraticness in his approach toward dealing with the recent mortgage banking collapse, first "suspending" his campaign to fly to Washington for a meaningless conference with Bush, and then resuming it. His campaign has not been managed well. Early on, it was virtually broke and today its fundraising is still dwarfed by his opponent's. His campaign has been mainly a series of negative attacks and misstatements about his opponent. He has done liitle to sell himself or his policies other than manufacture numerous silly distractions, like "lipstick on a pig" and "Joe the (fake) Plumber.". McCain's choice of a running mate showed very poor judgment on his part. It has been roundly criticized even by members of his own party. Sarah Palin is nowhere near educated enough for the job of Vice President. She is far too partisan, impulsive, provincial, divisive and undignified for the job, and doesn't even understand its constitutional role. She is naive and recklessly ambitious. She lacks vitally important foreign policy background. McCain is 72 years old and has already gone through four bouts of cancer (the highly malignant and often recurrent melanoma variety). Should he die in office, the woefully-unprepared Palin would become President. The thought of Sarah Palin running our economy, our military, conducting negotiations with seasoned adversaries like Putin, Ahmedinijad, Chavez or Kim Jong Il, and having her fingers on our nuclear trigger, is absolutely terrifying. For advice and guidance, she would be relying on the same neocon economic, domestic, and foreign policy staff who have driven our country into the ditch over the past 8 years. McCain professes to be a reformer offering change but his campaign is run by ex-Bush aides and 7 key advisers who are, or have been, powerful lobbyists. With that in mind, it is doubtful he would enact the real change this country so badly needs. For this and for all the other reasons I have already listed above, I CANNOT support John McCain's candidacy for the presidency.

Barack Obama is a man of unproven quantity. He has a limited track record in national politics. His mother was white and raised in America, but his father, who left he and his mother when Obama was only 2, was a black non-practicing Muslim from Kenya. Obama was born in Hawaii (www.factcheck.org/, run by the conservative Republican Annenberg Foundation, has seen and verified the birth certificate as authentic), and was named after his father, including his middle name of Hussein. During his early youth, he briefly attended both Muslim and Catholic schools in Indonesia. He was partly raised in Kansas by his white grandparents, and was raised as a Christian. His name and unique background, plus his limited national track record, have caused some cynical and ignorant conservatives angst. They wrongly believe he is a Muslim and would compromise our national values or sell us out. These fearful, suspicion-laden types ignore the fact that he has done almost everything RIGHT in his life and his story embodies the American dream. He should be applauded rather than condemned for his life style and choices. He went through college, attended Harvard Law School, and was even President of the Harvard Law Review. Instead of grabbing an easily-obtainable cushy corporate law job after college, he decided instead to unselfishly help poor and minority victims of plant closings on Chicago's south side by becoming a community organizer. This was for very low pay, but it helped these people find other work and showed them ways to take part in and get the system to work for them. In the mid '90s, he ran for Illinois state office, was elected, and in 2004 was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he has continued his fight for "the little guy," a fight he is now attempting to wage from the White House. He married and fathered two young girls and became a member of a Christian church in Chicago. His then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is well known in religious circles for a long and distinguished career in Christian charity. But this minister made some remarks critical of the United States, its role in the world, and its inaction on poverty which were controversial and at times over the top. This unfortunately cast a shadow on Obama himself, particularly among cynical right-wingers, who were looking for something negative to throw at him anyway, and has made them question his patriotism. But no one can question Obama's devotion to help those without a real voice. Like JFK in the 1960s, Obama has reached out to the young and disenfranchised and has inspired a huge wave of them to become involved in our political process. He is tremendously reasoned, articulate, and an inspirational and charismatic speaker. His economic policies aim to provide opportunity from the bottom up and stand in stark contrast to the neocon Republican preference for aiding the wealthy while basically ignoring everyone else. With roughly 1 in 7 of us uninsured or underinsured and health costs steadily rising, he has developed a national health insurance plan to get EVERYBODY insured. He has demonstrated broad vision amd tremendous understanding of economic, military, and world affairs strategy. He prefers to build consensus and be inclusive rather than resorting to divisiveness and exclusion. His economic plan provides much-needed tax relief for the middle class and poor, the backbone of our economy, and his health care plan aims at universality and cost control, much like the rest of the industrialized world has enjoyed for many years. He was absolutely correct in his initial opposition to the Iraq war, and for all the right reasons. He draws advice from a wide array of superb, proven sources like Warren Buffett, Robert Reich, Joe Biden, Robert Rubin, and many others. Republican military and foreign affairs expert COLIN POWELL HAS EVEN ENDORSED HIM, as have Republicans like Susan Eisenhower, Scott McClellan, and a number of others. All cite his intellect and steady, composed manner of studying and dealing with problems as an important reason for their support. Were OBAMA to die in office, he would, unlike McCain, leave the country in very good hands. Experienced and competent Joe Biden would become President, and the cabinet would be filled with able and proven producers not of the disastrous neocon realm.

Obama has expressed the strong desire to revamp our federal government, cut out inefficient programs, and greatly reduce the power and influence of special interests lobbyists. He has pledged to return the Judicial branch to its pre-Bush nonpartisan status. Obama is pro-choice, which concerns me because I view abortion on demand as a form of murder for convenience. But I am encouraged greatly by the fact that he is pledged to provide much better sex education and will push strongly for other alternatives to abortion. He is devoted to important quality of life issues like higher wages, better educational opportunities, and health care for all, not just the privileged few. I find that, for all of these reasons, Barack Obama is the better choice for President, and so I hereby endorse BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT. But there is one more very important reason I do this.

The United States, more often than any other country in the world, is looked up to for its opportunity and moral leadership. How, I ask, can we rightfully and convincingly claim to be bastion of morality and opportunity if we deny a candidate the office of President solely because of his or her ancestry, race, gender, or creed? We demonstrated religious tolerance by electing a Catolic, JFK, President in 1960. After a past history of slavery, bigotry, and civil rights strife, we can now demonstrate racial tolerance by electing our first black President. I CHOOSE BARACK OBAMA NOT JUST BECAUSE HE IS BLACK, BUT BECAUSE HE IS A VERY COMPETENT, INTELLIGENT, FAIR-MINDED AND ENERGETIC PERSON WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE BLACK.

Electing a qualified black man President will send a powerful signal across the entire globe: The United States is TRULY an open and desirable country, where freedom, opportunity, and equality really DO exist for ALL! Though Christian and American, Obama is viewed with curiosity and interest by many moderates throughout the Muslim world. What better way to demonstrate to the Muslim peoples that America is NOT the "great Satan" which many of their extremists portray us as, than to elect Obama President? As evidenced in my blog from last week, Europeans and others view Obama as a unique type of "world citizen" which appeals to them. But last, and definitely not least, electing Obama will prove a powerful blessing to our own black citizens. It will prove they are NOT automatically shut out of our system. It will raise the bar for them and inspire them to take part in and contribute to America as never before. It will show they really BELONG are truly VALUED for their intelligence and vision, not merely for their athletic ability or entertainment purposes.

This is why I say "ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT ON NOVEMBER 4!" Thank you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

US ELECTION: A BRITISH VIEW

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK ON THE ACCURACY OF ALL THE POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

We don't often have a chance to see what others outside our country have to say about our elections. I thank my sharp young Canadian friend Erin Moneypenny for sharing this revealing and interesting editorial by Jonathan Freedland in a recent issue of the British newspaper, "The Guardian." This paper is read by a large number of their ruling Labour Party voters. Freedland writes...

"If Sarah Palin defies the conventional wisdom that says elections are determined by the top of the ticket, and somehow wins this for McCain, what will be the reaction? Yes, blue-state America will go into mourning once again, feeling estranged in its own country. A generation of young Americans - who back Obama in big numbers - will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn't work after all. And, most depressing, many African-Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama with all his conspicuous gifts could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president.

But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most. For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany, France, Britain, and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. If November 4 were a global ballot, Obama would win it handsomely. If the free world could choose its leader, it would be Barack Obama.

The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he, like the majority of the world's population, opposed the Iraq war. McCain supported it, peddling the lie that Saddam was linked to 9/11.

Non-Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over the international system but will treat alliances and global institutions seriously: McCain wants to bypass the United Nations in favour of a US-friendly League of Democracies. McCain might talk a good game on climate change, but a repeated floor chant at the Republican convention was 'Drill, baby, drill,' as if the solution to global warming were not a radical rethink of the US's entire energy system but more offshore oil rigs.

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cjeney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, this may well change.

Suddenly, Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is not with only one ruling clique, but with Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to have been about race - that Obama was rejected because of his colour - the world's verdict will be harsh. In that circumstance, Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude that 'the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race'.

Even if it's not ethnic prejudice, but some other aspect of the culture wars, that proves decisive, the point still holds. For America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likeable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, 'historical decline'. Let's not forget, McCain's campaign manager boasts that this election is 'not about the issues.'

Of course I know that even to mention Obama's support around the world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged Obama at home, branding him the 'candidate of Europe' and making him seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about today's America, that the world's esteem is now unwanted? If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us - and, make no mistake, we shall hear it."

WOW---pretty thought-provoking! What are your thoughts on this, readers?


NEXT WEEK: MY ENDORSEMENT FOR PRESIDENT!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

BEWARE: THE FRUITCAKES ARE OUT!

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.com/ REGULARLY TO CHECK THE ACCURACY OF ALL THE POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

Beware: The fruitcakes are out. In abundance. Now what am I talking about? Just look at some of the loony extremists attending recent Palin/McCain rallies. They are wackos! These are vicious, angry, mouthy, frustrated, thoughtless, intolerant, ill-informed people. They represent the worst, darkest, most fanatical elements of the far-right reactionary segment of today's much-too-socially-conservative Republican Party. These people are fearful and full of hate. They are on a hunt for scapegoats and are hungry for persecution. They are suspicious and mistrustful, and are irrationally focusing their sights on Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrats. These hard-hearted misfits are reminiscent of Hitler's brown-shirted SA Storm Troopers in Nazi Germany, circa early-mid 1930s. They are the types of small-minded and fearful individuals who have burned books, and even their opponents at the stake in previous eras. Many call themselves Christians and believe it is their sacred duty to combat all that they view as evil. I question the authenticity of their Christianity, though, for Christ NEVER advocated attacking or killing other people! The strongest action HE ever undertook was overturning the money-changers' tables at the Temple. The rage today's far-right fanatics express is psychotic. They must be held in check before they begin widespread attacks on those not meeting their approval. In effect, they advocate a new Dark Ages in American politics. But they are UN-American and MUST be defeated on November 4 and kept out of power!

Immature, irresponsible, and cynical politicians like the ever-opportunistic demagogue Sarah Palin, and her now mean-spirited running mate John McCain, are recklessly stirring up these fanatics with non-stop negative campaigning. They infer Barack Obama associates with "domestic terrorists" and is funded by Palestinian radicals. They say he follows preachers who "hate America", and many of these McCain/Palin followers make a point of mentioning Obama's middle name, Hussein, as though that in itself makes him suspect and somehow less American. Whereas Obama's approach has been to rightfully attack on issues and positions, the McCain camp has been practicing a deliberate and coordinated use of the politics of personal attack and character assassination. This repeated fanning of the flames of fear and hatred has incited their crowds to extreme reactions. This is the politics of witchhunt and destruction, not honest discussion and consensus-building. Just this week, after Palin made her ridiculous "domestic terrorist" charge at Obama, cries of "terrorist!" and "kill him!" were heard coming from the crowd. At a McCain rally in Lakeville, MN, a raging misguided man shouted out, "I'm MAD! Obama and Pelosi are pushing us down the road to socialism"! Another one asked, "Why can't we just line these people up"? One idiot woman even said, "I don't trust Obama. He's an Arab"! That very same crowd even BOOED McCain when he tried to set the matter straight on Obama! And, at a re-election rally in Georgia for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss (the same one who unseated paraplegic war hero Max Cleland a few years ago by claiming that Cleland was "soft on terrorism"), one crazy woman yelled out, "Bomb Obama"! Clearly, this calculated use of negative campaigning by the McCain camp has gotten way out of control.

Occurrences like these appear to lend a lot of credence to my claim 2 weeks ago that we may be heading down the path to FASCISM rather than socialism. I seem to be hearing the march of jack boots coming ever closer. What are YOUR thoughts on this out there, people? Just click on comments right below this blog. You don't have to identify yourself. Use a pseudonym if you like. Thank you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

ARE WE SOCIALIST?

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK ON THE ACCURACY OF ALL THE POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

"From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."
- Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875

"The needs of the many far outweigh the wants of the few."
- Star Trek's Mr. Spock


Is the United States a socialist country? Are we heading in the direction of socialism? We hear claims of this from time to time, but is it true? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, socialism is defined as "1 any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2 a system...in which there is no private property 3 a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done."

Karl Marx, the father of communism, outlined a number of changes in humankind's economic and governmental development. His advocated goal, communism, would be achieved when humankind would live in peace and harmony and would work together for the common good to share equally all that was produced. In other words, people would work according to their strength, talent, and education or skill level, and do so with the mindset that what they were working on or producing would be for everybody's benefit instead of only their own individual wealth or standing. Everybody would take from the goods produced according to their own needs. Because everyone was working toward and looking out for everyone's benefit as a whole, everybody would have all that they need and no one would try to hoard, or dominate or control anyone else. All would be provided for and happy with this utopic heaven on earth. Marx condemned our current state of capitalism for its way of having the rich dominate and control the poor and even use them so as to make money off of them. He pointed out that wealthy land and business owners created laws for their own benefit and even used religion to keep those beneath them docile, in an effort to maintain control over these poor and working people. He predicted that the poor and workers would eventually rise up to overcome the rich and take power from them. He said this long process would first develop into socialism (an in-between stage), and then, finally, communism. Writing in the mid-to-late 19th century, Marx was undeniably a brilliant observer and analyst of his time. I have always maintained that, had he been a physician, he would have been an excellent diagnostician. But I have also maintained that history has proven him to have been a rather questionable pharmacist, as the prescriptions he recommended to cure the evils of capitalism were based on faulty notions and were excessively harsh and repressively implemented. Marx's goal was beautiful, but the path to it taken by his followers like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, was less than desirable. In fact, it was unnecessarily brutal and bloody. In fairness to Marx, writing when he did, there is no way he could possibly have forseen this, nor the kinder and gentler changes capitalism later underwent (i.e. its evolution into present-day welfare state form) Marx was never able to take into account humankind's inherent individuality and degrees of self-interest. That is why his theory is fundamentally flawed, albeit in many ways a very good and desirable blueprint for building on.

Because of the repression and excesses which have occurred under previous governments espousing socialism (notably those of the Soviet Union, Red China, and North Korea), the term "socialist" has taken on a negative meaning here in the United States. It is stereotyped as meaning high taxes, no private property, and government control. As such, most things labeled as socialist have usually been given the kiss of death. This is unfortunate, because the method of labeling things socialist is not always accurate and has been used repeatedly by fearful conservative or reactionary groups to stifle change and kill or delay new or progressive ideas. Labor unions were first called socialist by those business owners favoring low wages, long hours, and child labor. Unions were thus unable to gain a foothold here until the 1930s, many decades after they came into prominence in Europe. We would never have developed a massive middle class without these unions. So, "socialist" or not, they were a good thing and the country prospered tremendously by adopting them. Social Security and Unemployment Compensation were once labeled socialist too because they were funded by taxes and administered by the government. I would hate to think of this country without these programs today! Medicare was inferred to be socialist by fearful, ignorant conservatives with no vision (like Ronald Reagan in 1964), and it has helped millions of seniors since its adoption in 1965. Today, every single western industrialized country but the United States provides universal health care for its citizens. Even poor Cuba does this! But here, National Health Insurance is being inaccurately called "socialized medicine" by paranoid and self-centered members of the far right who see nothing wrong with corporate bailouts but hate the very thought of any taxpayer funded program for regular people. Special interest groups profiting off health care products and services (and therefore off of human suffering and misery) also join in on the labeling. These conservatives are using this unfair and inaccurate name of "socialized", of course, to scare off voter support for the plan. Nothing could be further from the truth than this allegation of socialism, as both insurance companies and private companies are included in it.

Hardcore conservative Republican right-wingers, free trade and free market advocates, as well as highly self-centered and overly individualistic people love to call almost anything or anybody they oppose, or that has any amount of government regulation, socialist. They do this out of fear, selfishness, desire to make unrestricted profit, and to get others to support keeping the government out of it altogether. According to the definition of socialism I have previously listed, are government laws regulating vehicle speed limits socialistic? Of course not. They are common sense laws put in place for safety and the common good. Are vehicle seat belt or seat belt usage requirements socialistic? Of course not. Once again, while they may seem a nuisance, they are in place for safety and common good. Is our public education, our postal system, or our military socialistic? Absolutely NOT! While mainly government run, they are again in place for the common good. Are Medicare, Medicaid, or even Barack Obama's proposed National Health Insurance plan socialistic? Absolutely NOT! They too are, and will be, in place for the common good. Yes, all of these programs cost money, and all are funded by tax dollars. But to not have them in place would unfairly deprive millions of people of things nobody should be without. The bellyaching conservatives don't realize it, but it is their own excessive selfishness which CREATES the types of government-run or even socialist programs they hate and fear so much! They are, in effect, their own worst enemy! What it boils down to, plain and simple, is that some people are just too damn selfish, foolish, uncooperative, and overly individualistic, period.

So is the United States a socialist country? Are we heading in the direction of socialism? ABSOLUTELY NOT, and don't let ANY liar or fool tell you otherwise!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

THE FASCIST STATES OF AMERICA?

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK THE ACCURACY OF ALL THE POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."
-George Santayana

Back in the Vietnam War era, I remember hearing members of the "New Left" referring to the United States as being a "fascist" state. They did so for our having waged an imperialistic war, for the benefit of our military/industrial complex, in a small Asian country whose people we looked down upon, using a large number of poor white and minority soldiers to do the job, with Wall Street profiting handsomely off the venture. They claimed the government was lying to the people, withholding and distorting information on the war. Though much of the New Left's claims were borne out with the publication of "The Pentagon Papers" in 1971, I still regarded the allegation that we were a fascist country as having been a bit over the top. But events in our country over the past 8 years have now led myself and others to begin asking: Has the United States of America now become, or is it now becoming, in actuality, the Fascist States of America? There is disturbing evidence to suggest we may, in fact, be undergoing, a troubling transformation.

In a recent study entitled "The Puzzle of Fascism", Eric Williams examines the possibilities we may indeed be sliding into fascism. He lists the definition of fascism as being, "...an authoritarian and nationalistic system of government, intolerant, vicious in practice..." The World Book Encyclopedia defines fascism as "...a form of government headed, in most cases, by a dictator. It involves total government control of political, economic, cultural, religious, and social activities...Fascism allows industry to remain in private ownership, though under government control. Other important features...include extreme patriotism, warlike policies, and persecution of minorities."

Laura Dawn Lewis, a one-time writer for the L.A. Business Journal, is a devout Lutheran who founded the Couples Co., Inc., has lived here, in the United Kingdom, and in Saudi Arabia. She has written a number of pieces on the Middle East and is the author of "Laid Off, Now What?" She has also published a piece called "What Is Fascism?" which outlines and defines it very succinctly. She lists several characteristics of a fascist country, beginning with its REACTIONARY nature (it responds to current circumstances rather than making policy to prevent problems. It puts lies on top of repeated lies until truth becomes unrecognizable, changed, or forgotten altogether). We see ample evidence of this all around us with deceptive advertising in business as well as continual Bush administration and Congressional spin. Specific examples of these are far, far too numerous to mention here, but you and I both know they are plentiful. Another characteristic is CHAUVINISM, where the state has a two-tiered legal system whereby one group receives preferential treatment or more rights than the other, often based on matters of race, creed, or origin. We have seen a number of examples of this over the years. To this criteria I would also add economic standing, as in our system, clearly there is one set of justice for the haves and yet quite another for the have-nots. Another characteristic of these countries is IMPERIALISM, establishing a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by setting up economic and political domination of another state. Definitely, our recent history in Iraq falls under this heading. After all, we blatantly conquered the country without having been attacked by it, destroyed its infrastructure, and then rebuilt it OUR way with OUR contractors so as to ensure we would always have access to and/or influence over its oil. This nifty little plan was first conceived and developed under the auspices of an extreme right-wing think tank, The Project for a New American Century, whose charter members included none other than war criminals Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, and a number of other diabolically familiar faces.

Ms. Lewis also lists a number of conditions which foster and nurture fascism within a country. Included among these is INSTABILITY OF CAPITALIST MARKETS. Surely our recent mortgage crises and capital meltdowns fit this bill. Also included is the STRIPPING OF RIGHTS AND WEALTH FROM A SEGMENT OF SOCIETY. Bush and the neocon Republican Party's huge tax cuts for the wealthy, their exporting of good paying American jobs overseas, and their push for tort reform (weakening or removing the public's right or ability to sue major corporations or the government for damages) have all wrenched wealth and rights from the middle class and especially the poor and have given them to the rich. Another condition we have present in abundance is GREED. The trend toward cutting workers' benefits, freezing or lowering wages, exporting jobs, encouraging illegal immigration to keep wages low, the skyrocketing CEO salaries and benefits packages, as well as the fraudulent excesses by corporate giants like Enron, Tyco, World Con, and especially the mortgage meltdown are ample proof of the corruption and greed inherent in our business and government today. Then there is the phenomenon of ORGANIZED PROPAGANDA. We saw and heard mounds of manufactured "evidence" we were barraged with to get us to go to war in Iraq. FOX "News" has become the de facto propaganda arm of the Bush White House, parroting its every pronouncement. Major oil companies and mortgage bankers have all deluged us with widespread ad campaigns to push public opinion in their favor. Need I say more?

Ms. Lewis goes on to list a number of fascism's defining characteristics. First is the meshing of government and business. We see that not only in Iraq but also in the way corporations dominate and work with our government, getting preferential legislative and judicial consideration, lobbying and effectively blackmailing much of Congress, and in some cases even authoring legislation itself, for its own benefit. The recent attempt by Bush and his Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is another case in point. The demand that Paulson receive an immediate $700 BILLION to spend as he sees fit to prop up the economy WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT OR LEGAL REVIEW is the height of arrogance. It was designed to benefit big business and shut the people out of the process altogether. It was a clear present-day attempt to tax WITHOUT REPRESENTATION for the benefit of the few at a cost to nearly all. Another characteristic of fascism is creating or identifying scapegoats to unify a cause. In recent years, Muslims and liberals have been the Bush regime's favorite whipping boys for this purpose in the misleadingly named "war on terror". Yet another is the disdain for human rights. Clearly Bush's excessive Patriot Act allowing for illegal wiretaps and the eventual suspension of habeas corpus easily fit this category. Habeas corpus, the right of an accused to know charges brought against him, and to receive adequate defense and a fair trail, has been a fixture of western law since England's King John first granted it back in 1215. Bush and his paranoid neocon Republican followers (and even that "independent" turncoat Joe LIEberman) have effectively trashed the concept. Their use of torture as well as the unlawful kidnapping and detention of foreign nationals, as well as their decision to implement provisions of the Geneva Convention arbitrarily as they see fit, are glaring examples of their authoritarian nature and total disregard for human rights. Still another characteristic is obsession with national security. We have heard Bush and his cronies use this excuse dozens of times in attempts to withhold information or obstruct justice. One more characteristic is the protection of corporate power. Bush's insistence of retroactive immunity for telecom companies who illegally supplied the government with wiretapping and private email data fit in nicely here, as does Bush's attempt to privatize the Iraq War by awarding non-bid contracts worth bilions to murderous corporate campaign donors like Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater, and then allowing them free reign in Iraq. Another defining characteristic is the suppression of labor power. Bush's and the Republicans' advocacy and support of tort reform and outsourcing jobs cripple labor, as do Bush's support and encouragement for illegal immigration. Still another one is a controlled mass media. Bush tried his best to shut down PBS, declaring it to be too liberal. His White House has issued nothing but spin throughout his tenure and has even distributed talking points to its ever-friendly propaganda arm, FOX "News". Then there is the characteristic of corruption. It has been abundant in our federal government all throughout Bush's tenure. There has been rampant cronyism in the White House itself, with the appointments of Alberto Gonzales and Mike Brown to positions where they had no business being, in addition to the blatant ideological litmus tests in evidence over at Bush's Justice Department. But the most dangerous characteristic of all is fraudulent elections. There is strong evidence to suggest that Busah stole both the 2000 and 2004 elections. In 2000, it was "hanging chads", roads to polling places in heavily black and Democratic sections in Florida being closed down, and Bush's brother's Florida Secretary of State Kathleen Harris hurriedly certifying election results before all recounts had been completed. In 2004, it was the removal of voting machines in heavily black and Democratic areas of Ohio to new locations in the more Republican areas. This caused extremely long lines and therefore a falloff in voting in the Democratic areas. In both cases Bush "won" election by very narrow margins.

The classic example of a fascist state is Nazi Germany, with its strong authoritarian government, its arrogant nationalism, secret police, press censorship, persecution and murder of Jews and political opponents, collusion between Hitler and the Krupp industrial empire, and its aggressive war against Poland and the rest of the world. Thankfully, we in this country have not yet seen murderous excesses like those of Nazi Germany. But disturbing parallels between our government and industry are beginning to emerge. We must not slide into fascism, even if our variety of it IS milder than that of Hitler's Germany. There is a dangerous new militarism and intolerance of dissent creeping into our national psyche. These are unhealthy developments which must be reversed. There is a tendency for us to act unilaterally regarding other nations. There is a school of thought which says the President must have almost unlimited power and that the Legislative and Judicial branches of government should be subordinate to him. That paternalistic and authoritarian attitude must be rejected altogether, and is one in a growing list of reasons why the blustery, trigger-happy and militaristic John McCain must NOT be elected President November 4!!!