Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Another Indictment In Leak Case?

It looks as though special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may soon indict another member of the Bush/Cheney cabal involved in leaking the identity of a CIA NOC.

In lengthy interviews over the weekend and on Monday, they said that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has started to prepare the paperwork to present to the grand jury seeking an indictment against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Although the situation remains fluid, it's possible, these sources said, that Fitzgerald may seek to indict both Rove and Hadley, charging them with perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy related to their roles in the leak of Plame Wilson's identity and their effort to cover up their involvement following a Justice Department investigation.

I won't hold my breath waiting for Rove's indictment, because he is a slippery motherfucker and, like many friends and family members of the Bush dynasty, he has a nasty way of avoiding taking the consequences of his actions.

But it's good to know that Fitgerald, unlike Kenneth Starr, is taking his time and building his case slowly, avoiding as best he can making any mistakes that could hurt his ability to prosecute his case.

Starr, who had been appointed by Republican witch-hunters in Congress to go after then-President Bill Clinton, rushed through his investigation of the Whitewater scandal and got sloppy. In the end, all Starr could do was trap Clinton into lying under oath about an extramarital affair. Neither Bill nor Hillary were touched by Whitewater, except in the mainstream media, who helped crucify them. So much for "liberal bias."

Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is obviously the kind of guy who carefully and systematically goes through his case, taking time to make sure his evidence is solid before going for an indictment.

Bush, Cheney, Rove and whoever else was involved in outing Valerie Plame-Wilson's CIA identity over her husband Joe's calling bullshit on the Iraq/Niger/uranium lie may never see a prison cell for their crimes. But the possibility is open, if nothing else, for the stigma of criminal indictment to disgust enough patriotic Americans into taking back control of the country and giving power in Congress to the Democrats.

Now if only we could get those damned Diebold election-riggers out of Ohio and other critical states...Maybe we could get Fitzgerald to go after Ken Blackwell?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Taking Back America, Part 4a

In the previous entry in this series, I stressed the importance of controlling the dialogue. This bit of instruction on what you can do to control the discussion is so important, I have decided to add a couple more critical points. The first I will state here, the second for the next entry.

Perhaps the most insidious means the far right have of seizing control of debate is their co-opting of the mainstream media. And, more importantly, their method of killing the message by going after the messenger.

Case in point: Newsweek's lack of context in quoting Senator Hillary Clinton on a recent immigration bill.
In an article in the April 3 edition of Newsweek, White House correspondent Holly Bailey reported that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was "elbowing for attention" and "whacked the GOP with the Bible" when she "impl[ied that] anti-immigration proposals were not only hardhearted, but un-Christian." Bailey's wording suggested that Clinton was seizing on the opportunity to inject religion into the debate. In fact, numerous religious leaders have leveled similar criticism at sponsors of legislation that would critics say would punish "good Samaritans."
See how the Republican Noise Machine operated? Here's more:
Clinton, speaking about the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437) at a March 22 press conference, said: "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself." She was referring to a section of the bill, which passed the House of Representatives in 2005, that threatens up to five years of imprisonment to anyone who assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States.
Pay close attention to what Clinton said, and then pay close attention to the Newsweek article (which is linked to in the excerpt).

Say what you will about Clinton, or her opinion, but you may notice that the attack by Newsweek redirected attention from her criticism of the bill in and of itself, to her mention of Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and of "the Scripture."


It's because the message was something somebody at the magazine didn't like, but couldn't find a better argument with which to respond. So they focused on attacking her for mentioning religion. The idea was to jump on her for being hypocritical; after all, the Republican Noise Machine would have you believe, Democrats want to "stamp out religion" and so Hillary is being "hypocritical" for mentioning Jesus' name.

There are some books I highly recommend reading, and you can either check them out from your local library or find them at your local bookstore. They are:
Blinded By the Right, by David Brock

The Republican Noise Machine, also by David Brock

Big Lies, by Joe Conason

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, by Al Franken
These books detail how the far right distorts the truth and how it tries to kill critical news stories by attacking the messengers. I also recommend, for supplemental reading:
The Oh Really? Factor, by Peter Hart
This last deals with some of the lies, distortions and ommissions of fact by Fox Spews personality Bill O'Reilly. But if you're not up for reading that one, you can probably enjoy watching MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In the next entry, I will finish off this portion of the series by explaining how you cam control the dialogue on the subject of religion in political debate.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Let the Dead Rest

Just when you think a dead person can't be exploited any more than she was in what passed for her "life", you get proven wrong.

It seems Terri Schiavo's husband and parents are publishing books, each telling only the side of the story the authors want you to hear.

For those of you living in a cave this time last year, here's a brief recap lifted from the article:

Terri Schiavo died on March 31, 2005, at the age of 41, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed under a legal order granted to her husband, Michael.

She had been in what her doctors said was a persistent vegetative state, unable to eat, think or communicate since her heart stopped beating for several minutes in 1990, starving her brain of oxygen. An autopsy showed her brain had atrophied to half its normal size.

Despite what Michael Schiavo or her parents, the Schindlers, may tell you, neither side in this case really wanted what was best for Terri herself. The proof now is not only in the selfish legal battles they waged, but also in their continued exploitation of a woman whose life effectively ended more than a decade and a half ago.

And of course, the Bush regime and numerous politicians in Congress couldn't help but stick their noses in to catch a piece of the action when last year they tried to force their own agenda on the Florida court system (fortunately, the Supreme Court--then untainted by the totalitarian Sam Alito--stepped in and told them what to go do with themselves).

But why exploit a dead woman? Hadn't she suffered enough by becoming a complete vegetable, with no hope of recovery? Hadn't she been dragged through the papers and put before the cameras enough?

I suppose not, if the books are coming out--soon no doubt to be followed by the inevitable movie of the week deals.

Listen, Terri Schiavo was dead long before her physical shell finally ceased to function. Her optic nerves were cut off, rendering it blind, incapable of following that much-ballyhooed balloon in that heavily-edited video. She was a virtual corpse hooked up to a feeding tube, essentially the only thing keeping Terri's body from joining her soul, which had long ago taken leave of this world.

And finally, when the cameras and the newspaper reporters started moving on to the death of Pope John Paull II, the saga came to what should have been a merciful end. The autopsy showed that yes, Terri was indeed brain-dead with no hope of recovery (spare me the medical jargon; when your brain is atrophied to half its size and your cognitive functions are clearly gone because that part of your grey matter has decayed to nothingness, you're brain-dead and that's the end of the argument).

And yet, her family insists on making her into some kind of plaything for the media hounds, too caught up in their hatred of each other to let the woman rest in peace.

Leave it alone, people. Just leave it the fuck alone.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Taking Back America, Part 4

Before I get to the point of this entry, I'd like to remark, briefly, on several events making the news today.

  • In one of its usual displays of Rumsfeld-ian arrogance, the Pentagon is considering "requiring military prosecutors to observe a U.N. convention against torture in their use of evidence during tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp." Well, gee, if they're considering following international laws on torture I guess that makes the Pentagon a really swell bunch of folks...NOT! NEWSFLASH: the Pentagon, at all times and without exception, should adhere to the Geneva Convention. The U.S. is a signatory, it has an obligation to follow it. If not, then nobody had better complain when American prisoners are tortured by enemies.
  • The Shithead-in-Chief has decreed that Iraqis must form a government, and fast. Well I'm sure they will just end their civil war, start making nice, forget centuries of ethnic and religious animosty, and get right to it. After, oh, about half the population has been massacred.
  • The British high court basically told a Muslim girl--and every other citizen of the U.K.--that there is no expectation of religious freedom in Great Britain. Kind of makes one proud that we live in a country where we have the right to worship, or not, as we please.
  • And you're going to love this last one, ladies and gentlemen. The Washington Post's new neoconservative blogger has declared the late Coretta Scott King a communist.
Sickening, isn't it? Especially the smearing of a dead civil rights activist as a communist, simply because a fascist doesn't like what she stood for in life.

Which brings us to the point of this, the latest entry in the Taking Back America series: WE MUST TAKE BACK CONTROL OF THE DISCUSSION.

Perhaps you've noticed over the past fifteen years, a pattern in Republican talking points. They say what they want to, when they want to, and however the hell they want to, no matter how insane it is or inflamatory to the situation.

The typical Democratic response has been to bend over and take it when, for example, Jean Schmidt calls a decorated war veteran like Jack Murtha a coward for suggesting we ought to leave Iraq as quickly as possible while helping Iraq get the hell out of the chaotic mess we got the country into. Or when during the 2002 midterm elections Republicans smeared war veteran and multiple amputee Max Cleland.

This has to end. If you want to take back this country from the neocon scum, you'll want to get down in the mud with them and fight dirty. I know you might be thinking, "why should we lower ourselves to their level?"

To that I ask, do you think Karl Rove, Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Lielly or Ann Coulter worry about what people think of them when they make such remarks as "[w]hen contemplating college liberals,you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty" (Coulter)? Or that they worry about being labeled insane when they say something like, " Hillary Clinton is seeing pink. Code Pink. The unruly group of far-left female apologists for tyranny around the world, most infamous for prancing around in pastel lingerie to protest President Bush and the war on terror, has now launched a nationwide campaign against the New York senator because of her opposition to immediate troop withdrawals from Iraq." (Malkin)?

No, their job is to go on TV, get printed in the papers, and pollute the blogosphere with the proverbial blood of Democrats, liberals, and conservatives who don't tow the GOP line 100% of the time. And they're winning. Just look at how close the 2004 presidential election was.

With the lies of the Swift Boat Liars For Bush tarnishing John Kerry's war record, and the successful portrayal of the Massachusetts Senator as a flip-flopper on critical issues (a patently false portrayal), Bush managed to cheat his way to a second term. Think about it; why, with a horrible record and growing dissatisfaction with his lies and his disastrous policies, would the Shrub have stood a legitimate chance of winning unless he could drag his opponent down to his level in the public eye?

That is the neocon media tactic. They know their record is one of deceit, corruption and criminal acts, and the only way they can deflect attention is to make the discussion turn in their favor.

Turn on, for ten minutes, any episode of the O'Lielly Spin Zone on Fox Spews Channel. Pay attention to the token liberal on the show. Notice how they almost never let the poor sap get a word in edge-wise? And when he or she starts saying something they can't spin in their favor or flat out lie about, off goes the microphone.

Hear's another suggestion, listen anytime Bush or one of his media whores tries to make you feel guilty for questioning him by saying the "terr'ists" are "empowered" by your dissent.

Are you going to take that? And why should you? You're an American. You love your country. You are outraged at what Bush & Co. and their whores in Congress have done to our country.

Whether you're running for Precinct Committee Member or city council, or mayor, or an office on the state or national level, you will get no where if you don't control the debate.

If your opponent has a record of siding with corporate interests over constituents, point it out. Explain why it is a bad thing to give a free tax break with no requirement for creating and keeping jobs in your community; tell voters that if a corporation gets a free tax break only to lay off workers in your community, thereby harming said community, then that corporation can and should pay its fair share to make up for the lost tax revenue from laborers. The government is our employee, and its job is to provide services. It builds and maintains roads, operates public utilities such as water and gas and electricity, does upkeep on parks, etc. And that all requires money. People don't do this stuff for free, they've got families to feed too. There is also the cost of materials.

So why, when MCI for example, announces in 2003 that it is laying off between 2,000 and 3,000 customer service operators in Ohio and shipping the jobs to India with the stated goal of using the money saved to keep rates lower, then turns around and raises rates...does MCI deserve to be allowed to pay lower taxes? Those are 2,000-3,000 Ohioans that now cannot support themselves and their families, many of whom had to leave the Buckeye State to find work. When shit like this happens, it brings down the whole state.

That is the kind of argument you want to make to voters on the issue of tax breaks. Is it fair to people to expect them to pay increasingly higher taxes so some multi-millionaire who doesn't need it can have even more money--and all at your expense? The natural answer, of course, is "no it isn't."

And what of Iraq? No matter what his rhetoric, any Republican who has supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq has probably done something to slash benefits for veterans, or voted in favor of some measure cutting combat pay or medical benefits for injured soldiers. Use that when they question your patriotism. Say something like, "if you support the troops so much then why did you vote to cut funding for body armor, Senator Stevens of Alaska?" It also helps to start quoting Theodore Roosevelt when being called a traitor for criticizing the Shrub:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
This is a golden ticket, because it allows you to throw accusations of treason back at the GOP by demanding to know why they feel the need to committ moral treason.

As I said, you may be hesitant to "lower" yourself to their level. But the GOP and its enablers in the mainstream press have no such concern. There is no low to which they won't stoop, no depth to which they won't sink in order to get what they want. We can either fight back, or be cowed by the enemy. Most Democrats on the state and national level have chosen to be cowed. If you want to take back America, you can do a lot worse than to use that backbone of yours and take the fight to the Republican Party.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Lies Just Keep On Piling Up

It is absolutely disgusting, watching George W. Bush lie over and over, with nary a challenge to his scripted deceptions and fantasies.

In his canned speech in Cleveland, Ohio (the second of three liefests defending the invasion of Iraq), the Shrub continued to try to link the illegal invasion and occupation of that country to the fight against al-Qaeda.
Yesterday, I spoke about an important example of the gains we and the Iraqis have made, and that is in the northern city of Tal Afar. The city was once under al-Qaida control. And thanks to coalition and Iraqi forces, the terrorists have now been driven out of that city.
Except of course, as we all know from the final report of the 9/11 Commission, there was no al-Qaeda presence in Iraq prior to the invasion--and not much of one after, for that matter. A semi-casual, let's-talk-and-see-what-happens kind of contact, made with guns and knives at the ready should some motherfucker decide he's had enough of playing nice and mow everyone in the room down with automatic weapon-fire, perhaps. But no operational ties between al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein. But Hussein is an enemy of Osama bin Laden, and the likelihoof of those two ever hooking up is about as good as the chances of Robert Downey Jr. staying sober long enough to keep from violating his parole. It just isn't gonna happen.

So let me reiterate that, for those of you who haven't actually read the 9/11 Commission report or who still believe anything crapped out of Rush "Oxycontin Boy" Limbaugh's mouth: THERE WERE NO OPERATIONAL TIES BETWEEN AL-QAEDA AND SADDAM HUSSEIN.

But, throughout this sick tragedy that is the Iraqi melodrama, Bush and his criminal co-conspirators have repeatedly linked Iraq to al-Qaeda and--by proxy--the attacks that took place September 11, 2001.

As the country we took upon ourselves to invade, break and occupy without raising so much as a finger to repair collapses into outright civil war, the Bush regime maintains--against all reality--that things are just rosy; they tell us progress is being made and, if we only would believe that lie, things will be fine. But we'll stay in Iraq for years to come.

Of course, the false claim that Iraq is doing fine contrasts with the fact its former puppet prime minister has publicly stated that the country is, in fact, in a state of civil war.
Three years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, Iraq is in turmoil with a raging insurgency and a surge in sectarian bloodletting between Sunni Arabs and majority Shiite Muslims.

“It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Gee, that doesn't mesh with what our dear-leader Shrub is telling us! But then a lot of things don't mesh with the bile emanating from Georgie's smirking pie-hole.

And then, of course, there's Richard "the Dick" Cheney getting verbally blown by Bob Schieffer.

On Iraq, Schieffer did not challenge either Cheney's statement that "the Iraqis met every single political deadline" or his assertion about the progress of training Iraqi security forces. On the issue of domestic surveillance, Schieffer ignored Cheney's baseless assertion that the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program has been a "major success in preventing attacks against the United States," and allowed Cheney to claim, without challenge, that the program is "totally in compliance with the laws and Constitution of the United States" -- a claim disputed by many, including several congressional Republicans. Additionally, Schieffer allowed Cheney to repeat the myth -- debunked by Media Matters for America -- that the Bush administration does not follow polls.

With verbal fellatio such as this, it's no wonder the Shrub and his puppetmaster Dickie-boy enjoy taking on the press, which sold its collective spine long ago.

The interview, broadcast during the entire half-hour show, began with Schieffer discussing the war in Iraq. He asked if Cheney's past statements -- "my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators" and the insurgency is "in its last throes" -- "may be one of the reasons that people seem to be more skeptical in this country about whether we ought to be in Iraq." Cheney replied: "No, I think it has less to do with the statements we've made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality." Cheney then falsely asserted: "The Iraqis met every single deadline that's been set for them. They haven't missed a single one."

In fact, in February 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council failed to meet an imposed deadline for drafting an interim constitution, which was to provide the basis for the handover of power later that year. Additionally, in August 2005, the interim Iraqi government failed to meet three deadlines for reaching a consensus on a draft constitution. Iraqi citizens eventually approved the constitution in an October 15, 2005, referendum. Cheney then claimed that Iraq's security forces have seen "major progress." He claimed that "the reality" is that the Iraqi military has "been very successful now in terms of training and equipping over 100 battalions of Iraqi troops, and it continues to improve day-by-day."

And so the lies keep piling up, and the mainstream press continues to bend over for the Bush regime. But this is no surprise. The media, beholden these days to corporate interests, does not risk bringing down the wrath of sponsors by offending those who might support neoconservatives, or the Bush regime's policies. It is left to media watchdogs to blow the whistle to an increasingly war-weary audience too apathetic to even bother listening anymore.

Which is why it is imperative in this midterm election year to seize control of the national dialogue--and we must do it YESTERDAY. We have to control the dialogue, and wake the public up. I will go into depth on this subject in the next blog entry, part 4 of Taking Back America. Until then, stay informed!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Sick Stench of Bigotry

It's happening in Ohio, Massachusetts, and other states. Legislatures and governors, most if not all of them Republican, passing laws making it impossible and even illegal for gay people to adopt children.

According to the Boston Globe:
Governor Mitt Romney filed legislation yesterday that would allow religious groups to refuse to provide adoption services if doing so violates the tenets of their faith, including a belief that children should not be placed with gay couples.
There is a reason this kind of sickness is being rammed through. And it's got nothing whatsoever to do with "protecting" religious organizations. Religious fanatics on the far right want racist, homophobic, and religiously intolerant legislation on the books, and they want that legislation enforced with a vengeance.

Legislation such as that proposed by Romney, in reality, has to do with ignorant piles of shit who think that if a gay couple adopts a child they will somehow "infect" that child with their gayness--as if being homosexual were somehow a thing to be ashamed of. Ohio's Republican-dominated legislature is trying to ram through a similar law, but with even more insidious consequences.

The proposed Ohio law would 'prohibit a person from adopting "if the individual is a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender individual; the individual is a stepparent of the child to be adopted and is a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender individual; the individual resides with an individual who the court determines is a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender individual."'.

Worse, the law would deny adoptive rights to anyone even suspected of being something other than a heterosexual being; you don't have to be an out-in-the-open homosexual. Ohio would not have to show proof to support its accusation. If the state says you're gay, then as far as Ohio would be concerned you're a ragin' fruitloop. Furthermore, the law would prevent placing a child in foster care in a home if the state suspected that child were homosexual. Because, you know, God shits His holy pants at the thought that a gay child might somehow spread his or her homosexuality to any other kid in the household, right?

Somehow, I doubt it.

These laws have varying chances of successful passage, and fortunately Ohio appears to be one of the states where the chances are lower.

But this was to be expected. With the Republican Party plagued by scandals of corruption and criminal activity within its ranks, and being exposed as a deceitful bunch of cronies beholden to anything and everything except their constituents, voters are showing their increasing dissatisfaction. And there is a chance, however small, that Democrats may be able to retake at least one chamber of Congress this year--assuming they play their cards right and actually fight for their victory.

And if that happens, the party is really and truly over for the Republicans, who have enjoyed the benefits of virtually unchallenged power in Congress and the White House, and very soon the Supreme Court.

Which is why the far right of the GOP is so desperate to shove as much fuckery through state legislatures as possible before the end of Republican rule. And it is also why assholes like J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican state secretary who as Ohio's chief election official abused his position to rig the 2004 election in favor of George W. Bush--on whose campaign he served while an election official--has been recruiting the craziest of the crazy right-wing churches and ministers to stump for him. He knows that if he can pander to the powerful lobbying arm of the religious whacko brigade, he can win the bigot vote in the Southern part of the state in his quest to become governor.

And make no mistake, Blackwell is going for the bigot vote. According to, the election-rigging traitor "posted a picture of himself addressing the white supremacist ultra-right Council for National Policy (CNP)...then pulled the picture and tried to hide his participation in the meeting by removing mention of it from his website." (Apparently, he realized at the last minute that being seen cozying up to white supremicists was not a good idea.)

See, Ohio's not-so-favorite uber-Republican being what he is, Blackwell is trying every dirty trick in the book to get his prize: the governorship.

And legislative bigotry such as Ohio House Bill 515, the aforementioned anti-gay adoption law, is the perfect tool for appealing to those in the Buckeye State who choose to indulge in their basest, most negative instinct, which is "if it's different from us, it's no good and must be destroyed or driven out."

And it's happening in places such as South Dakota with its restrictive new anti-abortion law; in Illinois, "the Crystal Lake Park District turned down organizers of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago who wanted to use the lake for a rowing competition in July."; and in Ohio and Massachusetts, where gays are now being told they have no right to raise families.


Because despite this being the 21rst Century, society has yet to grow up in many respects. NEWSFLASH: What consenting adults do in their privacy of their own homes is neither your business or mine, and they have as much right to live, work, play and raise families as you or I. A woman has the right to make decisions regarding her own health and whether to continue a pregnancy. And just because a person's skin color is a shade or three darker than your own doesn't mean he or she has no right to vote (are you listening Blackwell and Harris?).

We live in an age where politicians pander to our lowest instincts. It is far past time we did something about it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

H & R Block Scam

If you've gotten anything in the mail pertaining to a settlement by H & R Block with certain states over charges they made to tax clients, this is really something you need to read--because right now there are plenty of scam artists looking to steal your identity and though it seems like a common sense thing to avoid, many people still get taken in.

To familiarize you with what's going on, H & R Block settled a lawsuit with a number of states that sued over charges the tax-filing company made to clients. Basically people allegedly got ripped off on the filing fees, and rather than go to court H & R Block settled.

Which, by the way, reeks of guilt because a company of their size and resources can and should fight for their good name if they're innocent. Sometimes money isn't an issue; it's the principle of maintaining your good reputation against erroneous or false charges. But I'm getting away from the point and I have to be somewhere shortly so I'll get right to it.

You may have gotten something in the mail that looks a lot like this.

If you have, you'll notice the portion that looks like this, where they ask you to write down your Social Security number.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!!! I know it seems like a no-brainer, but as I said there are people who don't know any better so this is why I'm warning you all now.

The red-flag that should set off all your internal alarms is the fact that they're even asking for your Social Security number in the first place. For one thing, any mailing pertaining to this settlement would come from a state that participated in the lawsuit, and it would arrive on an official state letterhead. For another, there is no fucking way the state will ask you for your Social Security number, because they already have it on file from whenever you file your taxes.

So this is a scam, folks, one designed to steal your identity. And you definitely do not want to get taken. If you've gotten something like this, throw it out or better yet, contact your local authorities and give it to them for evidence. Because these fuckers who steal people's identities need to be caught, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Taking Back America, Part 3

In the previous entry in this series, I told you what you could do to become more politically active. Just a brief recap: ward club meetings--join them. Do more than just vote, or write letters to the editor, neither of which is bad but in this day and age really aren't enough anymore.

As I stated last time, at some point you'll want to think about running for political office. Since ours is supposed to be a representative government, citizen participation is imperative and that does include running for office. The same people were never meant to keep getting elected over and over; that's how corruption sets in.

So, which office to run for? And how to do it?

Well, a good starter position to run for is Precinct Committee Member (PCM). It's a small potatoes office; it's part time and chances are you won't even get paid for it. But, it's the foundation on which the whole system is built.

What is a PCM, and what does a PCM do, you ask? PCM's are this:
A Precinct Committee Member is an elected local representative...Each member serves a specific precinct. Each precinct also has a Vice-Precinct Committee Member. Both positions are voluntary...Precinct Committee Members are elected by ballot every four (4) years. If a precinct has a vacancy, the position may be filled at any time by appointment of the County Chair (or a city councilperson, depending on where you live).
Each city, town, township or suburb has council wards, and each ward is broken down by voting precinct. Basically what you do is you go to your local board of elections and ask for a petition to get yourself on the ballot. Depending on local laws, you'll need to gather a minimum of five signatures, and a maximum of fifteen (that's how it works for the city of Cleveland, Ohio, where I live--but it may be different where you are). You'll want to gather at least double the number of required signatures, because of the margin for error, such as people who are improperly registered. And before I forget, you'll also want to acquire a list of voters who live in your precinct, for the party you're running for. This too may be acquired at your local board of elections. Once you've gotten the number of signatures required, turn them in before the filing deadline and you're on your way.

PCM elections are typically held during primaries. If you've got an opponent, you'll want to do some campaigning, and this is where being a member of your ward club comes in handy, because chances are you'll have made connections--such as your local councilperson, whose support you'll definitely want. You'll want to go door-to-door, and depending on the race you may also want to raise money to pay for fliers to distribute to voters in your precinct. Even if you have no opponent, go door-to-door anyway. A good PCM gets to know the people who live in his or her precinct anyway, and learn what they want out of government and so forth.

Alright, now you're thinking, great; what does a PCM do again? Here are some of the duties of the office:
A Precinct Committee Member:
  • Elects the local Democratic Party's leadership team every four (4) years, specifically County Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.
  • Elects office holders when Democratic officials vacate an office. For example, Precinct Committee Members for Cuyahoga County were called upon to select a new county prosecutor when Stephanie Tubbs-Jones left for the U.S. Congress.
  • Communicates with and organizes other Democrats in your precinct.
  • Appoints two (2) poll workers from your precinct to work each Election Day, both primary and general.
  • Participates in campaign and election-day activities (phone banks, literature distribution, etc.)
Like I said, small potatoes, but it has a significant amount of power. PCM's attend regular meetings, which really don't take up as much time as you might think if you're worried about the job eating up what little free time you have outside work. And the position is excellent for building experience for when you want to run for a higher, and more importantly, paid elected office.

Now before you start flooding me with comments asking if I'm doing this, the answer is YES I AM. That's right, I am running for Precinct Committee Member this year. So don't think I'm blowing a lot of hot air preaching about what you can do, while not doing it myself. I do try to make a habit of practicing what I preach.

This should be enough to get you off to a good start. Take some time this evening, absorb what I've said, and do some serious thinking. If it's too late for you to run for PCM this year, don't worry; attend your ward club meetings on a regular basis, and keep an eye out for any vacancies that need to be filled. PCM's often move on to higher office, so there's a good chance an opening will come along before you know it. And like I said, you'll want to have your councilperson or some other official who lives in your ward to back you.

In the next entry in this series, I'll give you some pointers about controlling the political dialogue. Until the next entry, stay informed, and STAY ACTIVE!


Sorry I wasn't able to get this published last evening like I said; a nasty storm and bad wiring combined to serve me with a brief brown-out at my place.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Taking Back America, Part 2

In the first entry in this series, I told you that the first thing you can do in the process of taking back America is to accept that it is dead, killed off by neoconservative policies, electoral fraud and lies. I also told you that it is important to remember that it will take years to take back what was once America.

Now, this is a depressing thing to have to accept, because it implies that America is damaged beyond all hope of immediate repair. That we on the left are already defeated. And in a sense, that is the case. But that is only for the short term. This is the next thing you can do--to remember that the first entry in this series applies to the short term, and not the long term. If I thought there was no hope of taking back this country, I wouldn't be telling you what you can do to help that process along.

If you need some hope to cling to, fear not, for here it is.
MARCH 10, 2006 (COMPUTERWORLD) - The state of Maryland stands poised to put its entire $90 million investment in Diebold Election Systems Inc. touch-screen e-voting systems on ice because they can’t produce paper receipts.

The state House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections.

My earlier entry was not meant to completely disillusion you, but to get you to accept the reality of the situation. Because you cannot hope to solve a problem unless you realize and accept the full scope of it.

Which brings us to the inevitable questions; okay, so America as we knew it is gone, what do we do about it? And where do we begin?

This is where I come to the point of this entry in the series.

Shouting out your frustration, or typing it out on a blog, isn't enough. Neither is writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper (an indication that you keep informed about what is going on in government, which is definitely good), or voting. Not that these acts aren't fine and dandy; they are. But in a country with a representative government, these acts are not nearly enough. Especially in today's environment.

So, if you haven't done so already you'll want to start attending ward club meetings for your local Democratic Party, or independent party if the Democrats are a turn-off to you. Every party that has any presence in a municiple community has party ward clubs, in which members of the local chapter of the party (I'll use Democrats from here on out as an example, but feel free to apply your political party of choice to this) meet to discuss what is going on in the community, the region, state and nation vis-a-vis politics, and how their lives are affected. Most importantly, they are good for formulating courses of action.

If you're not sure where your ward club meets or how to join, ask your city councilperson, or other elected official from your party. They usually meet once a month for a few hours, so it isn't a huge drain on your time and energy. And any ward club worth its salt will feed you, so you won't miss dinner at any rate. Once you've joined, you can take part in the discussion and also learn more about the political process. You'll also get treated to regular visits from candidates for office, which can be a bore sometimes, but it's important to know who is running for what, and what they have to say; it'll help you determine whether or not to support them.

The key here is that you become active in politics and in the workings of your community. Without at least this level of participation, then a truly representative government does not truly exist. So my suggestion to you is get up off your couch, and start looking for a ward club to join if you haven't already.

At some point, you will want to become even more active. This you can do by running for political office yourself, but that I will save for the next entry, which will probably be tomorrow evening. Until then, take the time to read and re-read this entry, and let it sink in. Take care, and until next time STAY INFORMED!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fukuyama's Moral Dilemna

In the latest online Slate piece by Jacob Weisberg, we are treated to an assessment of why neoconservative architect Francis Fukuyama has made a turnaround on the ideology he once held so dear.
Neoconservatives, [Fukuyama] contends, have abandoned their fundamental political insight, namely that ambitious schemes to remake societies are doomed to disappointment, failure, and unintended consequences.
The thing that is wrong, of course, with Fukuyama's assessment of the neoconservative movement and where it went wrong is that it's full of shit.


He has this romanticized view of neoconservatism in his head, which he's using to try and justify his disillusionment. Fukuyama obviously hasn't read George Orwell's 1984.

Neoconservatism is about, and has always been about, the acquisition of absolute power at any cost--as long as someone else pays the bill. That's it. That's the single, undeviating goal of neoconservatives: to obtain power by any means necessary, and keep it by any means necessary. Want to control the nation, but can't do it because too many people know what you're really about? Get your buddies to position themselves to where they can unduly influence electoral outcomes, and rig your way into office. Want to hide a truth that would destroy any chance of you getting what you want? Lie your ass off until people begin to believe it. Want to control the world? Take over the region that produces the bulk of its primary fuel source. Want to launch your invasion of that region? Sit back and let a major attack happen on U.S. soil, and use that attack as an excuse to invade. Want to stamp out any and all dissent? Turn the nation into a totalitarian state, a dictatorship, where freedom of the press and to protest are systematically eroded and eventually outlawed altogether. Circumvent the law, break it, pass new laws to make the illegal fuckery you're doing legal.

That is what the neoconservatives are about. It's got nothing to do with spreading democracy, or protecting us from terrorism; those are simply red herrings and fancy rhetoric, used to sway the increasingly ignorant and apathetic masses. Neoconservatism never went wrong; it was never right to begin with. The movement's stated ideals are a mask for its real intentions. As Orwell wrote, in the persona of O'Brian, the real purpose of Big Brother was the consolidation of power, and its infinite maintenance. The perpetual boot stomping down on the face of the masses.

If you're a neoconservative, once you begin to realize this fundamental truth you have two options; embrace it, as O'Brian and his victim Winston did (through torture, by the way, the preferred hobby of the Bush regime against prisoners). Or reject it. I'll give you three guesses as to what this architect of the neoconservative movement is doing, and the first two don't count.

Fukuyama is experiencing a similar dilemna to what Huckleberry Finn faced when he helped free a slave. Finn feels guilt initially, mistaking the guilt for his conscience, when in reality it was the societal programming he'd been raised under telling him that slavery was good and right, and to help a slave escape was wrong. In fact, it is ultimately Finn's human conscience that wins out, forcing him to do what's right and to renounce his social programming. Fukuyama is experiencing pangs of human conscience, having witnessed the price others have paid for the dreams he once harbored (even if he never actually admitted them to himself). But, his earlier ideology is still telling him, from the depths of his weakening depravity, that neoconservatism wasn't bad; in his mind, it just "lost its way." I believe it's really that Fukuyama is simply coming to realize what neoconservatism truly is, and what the ultimate costs of it truly are.

Next Entry: Taking Back America, Part 2

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Taking Back America, Part 1

Last month in this blog, I promised that I would not tell you what to do to acheive change, because you get told what to do all the time and I don't enjoy barking out orders anyway. And I promised you that instead, I would tell you what you can do to change this corrupted and broken system in which we find ourselves mired.

And so, in keeping with that promise, I present to you the first part in a series of entries to take place over the next few weeks, Taking Back America.

For those of you who are sick of the same old GOPers getting away with ever-more disgusting crimes against their constituencies, and want to do something about it there are some things you will need to bear and keep in mind.

The first thing you'll need to remember is that America as we knew it is gone. It's dead, finished, kaput. I know that's probably not what you wanted to hear, but I also promised you in my first entry that I would tell you things that will make you angry. This is one of them.

And it should make you angry. The neoconservative assholes that have usurped and abused this once-great nation have spent decades worming their way to absolute political power. The stolen elections of 2000 and 2004 were simply the culmination of decades of work by a subsect of the Republican Party that was born in the bowels of the Nixon administration. They have corrupted the electoral process to the point where they now control it on nearly every level. They have been negligent, perhaps deliberately so as they definitely were with Hurricane Katrina, in the 9/11 attacks. They have abandoned their sworn duties to hunt down Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. They have lied to get us mired in Iraq, using 9/11 as a political tool, and falsified intelligence in the process. In retaliation for being exposed as liars, they have targeted whistleblowers--the most prominent example being the outing of Valerie Plame-Wilson as a CIA NOC. And they have systematically bankrupted the Treasury and dismantled our institutions such as the EPA, Medicare and education.

So don't kid yourselves; America as we knew it is dead and gone as long as Bush & Co. and their neocon enablers in Congress and the press are in charge. That's the first thing you will want to keep in mind.

But, this is not to say that all hope is lost. If it were, I wouldn't be typing this right now. We can take back America. Just don't count on it happening overnight. Do not fool yourselves into thinking that the 2006 midterm elections or the 2008 elections will go our way. The system is too compromised at this point for that to happen. It took decades for the Republican Party to seize control of the nation. And it will take us just as long to reclaim what was once the world's oldest and most venerable democracy.

So keep this second thing in mind as you read and absorb all of this. It will take, perhaps, fifteen or twenty years to acheive tangible results. It will require dedication, organization, financing and planning on levels you probably don't realize. The GOP has threatened, intimidated, broken laws, passed new and unConstitutional laws, laundered money, bought loyalties, lied, cheated, stolen, and God only knows what else to get what it wants above all else: absolute political power. If you expect to have any hope of combatting them, you will have to be even more ruthless, cunning, and manipulative than they are. And you're going to have to do it while still maintaining the principles of honesty, integrity, and the ideals upon which this nation was founded.

All that is going to take an incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears. It's going to be difficult next to impossible. Hell, if it were easy then the Republicans would've never become so corrupt in their quest for power.

By now you're probably thinking to yourself, "whooooaaa...this guy is nuts! America, dead? Fifteen or twenty years to take it back? Hard work and lost time!? I'LL MISS AMERICAN IDOL!!!"

That's natural, but don't let it get to you. It's a tough and yes, even painful thing to accept. But you're going to have to be realistic in your thinking if you want to see any real change take place in your lifetime.

So that is the first part of this series: Accepting the reality of the situation. What we once knew as our country is gone, stolen out from under our noses. And it will take years, perhaps decades, of hard work and dedication to take it back. But it can and, with enough determination and effort, will happen.

Friday, March 03, 2006

O'Lielly Can't Handle Being Called Out

It's fun watching right-wing liar Bill O'Reilly implode. Every time he gets caught publicly in a lie, in an environment he can't control, he goes all red-faced (and sometimes splotchy) and begins yelling and screaming and threatening. It's like watching Gollum in the Rankin and Bass adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit flying into a rage at having lost his "precious."

In 2003, satirist Al Franken caught O'Reilly in a whopper of a lie at a book expo. O'Reilly had previously claimed on several occasions that he'd won a Peabody award for work he'd done while on the tabloid TV show Inside Edition. Franken pointed out how the show had actually won one Polk Award for a segment that had aired a full year after O'Reilly had left the program. The host of the O'Reilly Spin Zone predictably blew his top, and later lobbied Faux News lawyers to sue Franken. Not for libel or slander, mind you, which you might think he'd do if Franken had actually said something false about O'Reilly in print. No no no, Faux News--without a shred of evidence to support such a suit--sued Al over the title of his book, Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At the Right. For copyright infringment.

The suit was literally laughed out of court, and rightly so.

This is the kind of vindictive piece of shit Bill O'Lielly is; when he's caught in a lie he can't spin his way out of, he tries to bully the messenger into craven submission.

Lately he's been going after MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for regularly catching the King of Spin in flat out lies and reprehensible acts ranging from racist remarks to trash-talking liberals. And since Olbermann is safe behind the protective veil of MSNBC, there's nothing O'Reilly can do, like edit out content he doesn't like (as he does for his own show). Billy-boy has even taken to trying to petition MSNBC to replace Olbermann with the less-than-stellar-ratings-bringer Phil Donahue. The boy just can't take the heat.

Up until now, this little feud between Olbermann and O'Lielly had remained generally confined to just the two of them. But now, according to media watchdog Media Matters For America, O'Reilly has now threatened a caller who phoned in to his radio show and committed the unspeakable "crime" of mentioning Olbermann's name on the air.
On the March 2 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly threatened to turn over the personal information of a caller to "Fox security" because the caller mentioned MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. As Media Matters for America has noted, in recent weeks, Olbermann has repeatedly awarded O'Reilly the "Worst Person in the World" designation during his show, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. O'Reilly has responded, on several occasions, by asserting that MSNBC "is a true ratings disaster." The caller began by telling O'Reilly, "I like to listen to you during the day." Continuing, the caller stated, "I think Keith Olbermann's show," at which point O'Reilly disconnected the call, proclaiming: "Mike is -- he's a gone guy. You know, we have his -- we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit."
And this poor schmuck didn't even appear to have the chance to say anything critical yet alone in support of Olbermann.

Weird, huh? Not really.

See, O'Lielly has made a habit of being very careful to avoid naming people he has a feud with, outside the strict confines of his control. During his feud with Franken, he kept referring to the satirist as "Stuart Smalley," a character the comedian had portrayed on the TV sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. And he absolutely refuses to let anyone mention the actual names of his most hated enemies on either his TV or radio liefests.

Of course Olbermann has in fact been consistently higher in the ratings than O'Lielly would have his viewers believe. And Olbermann has enjoyed tremendous fun ripping Billy-boy's lies to ribbons on the air. Probably because the liar makes it so easy.

What is sad about the pathetic host of the All-Spin Zone is that he really has no reason to complain. Word to the unwise: if you don't like being called a liar, Billy-boy, it helps if you don't lie on a daily basis. It's simply a joke for you to whine about being called a liar if you are in fact a pathological liar. My advice to you is to grow up, quit your damned lying and spinning, and cease trying to bully people. Because it isn't working, and all it does is make you look like more of a horse's ass than you already are.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another Scandal, Another Smoking Gun

So once again George W. Bush is exposed as being deliberately--and criminally--negligent.

Yesterday a video was released showing that Bush was indeed warned before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last year that the levees would fail.

"federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage."

The mayor of New Orleans claimed to be shocked after perusing the video.

"New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said on Wednesday he was shocked by video showing U.S. President George W. Bush being told the day before Hurricane Katrina hit that the city's protective levees could fail.

The tape contradicts the president's statement four days after the hurricane struck: 'I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.'"

But none of this should be at all surprising; when Bush received the fateful August 6, 2001 PDB regarding the determination of Osama bin Laden to attack within the United States, his response was to sit on his ass and let the al-Qaeda attack happen. He didn't do a damned thing.

And when this was revealed during the 9/11 Commission hearings, that was the first official sign that protecting American lives is the farthest thing from what passes for Bush's mind.

So why be surprised that he didn't bat an eye or take action when he was told that the levees were inadequate to deal with the flooding that would inevitably follow a category 5 hurricane?

With the ineffectual Democrats and their rubber-stamping counterparts in the GOP asking tepid questions about the tape, and Bush setting record low approval ratings just about every day, the obvious questions are thus: What will it take before the American people rise up and hold this traitor and his cronies accountable? When, or will, Bush, Cheney and the rest of the regime be punished for their crimes? How many good people will have to die before enough is enough and the nightmare finally ends?

The sad, plain fact is that the Bush regime does not now, has not ever, nor will it ever, care what happens to America and its citizens; protecting us is the farthest thing from their minds. All they care about is seizing and maintaining power at any cost--as long as someone else pays the price for their ambitions.

That's a tough truth to accept, even for the most die-hard Bush-haters. But you know what? Tough. The truth is rarely, if ever, pleasant. Deal with it.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. lied to get us mired in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to us. Iraq had no WMDs. It had no operational ties to al-Qaeda. But the Bushites wanted their invasion, and they were prepared to tell any lie to get it. And they did. Now that country is collapsing into all-out civil war, as was predicted by every sane person both inside and outside the federal government who had any insight into the matter.

They put corporate cronies into high positions in government, in agencies that were designed to look out for our interests and protect us from harm. And as a result, those cronies systematically dismantled those agencies--from the EPA to FEMA.

And people are dead because of it, who didn't have to die. And they will continue to die, as long as the American people in general continue to throw up their hands and give up, telling themselves that there's nothing to be done about it.

It is this acceptance of, and surrender to governmental abuse that is killing this nation. Until we all become unified in our anger at the Bush regime and its enablers in government, until we rise off our couches and do something, then all we're stuck with is "another day, another scandal, and another smoking gun."