Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bill Ritter: A Study In Bad Decision-Making

Here in Ohio's race for state representative, District 14, you have three Democratic candidates to fill the spot vacated by Dale Miller (who got appointed to state senate when term-limited Dan Brady stepped down).

Erin Lally, a former state representative from another part of Ohio and whose yard signs dishonestly ask voters in our district to reelect her--even though she's never been elected to represent our district. Why on Earth should we elect a liar to represent us? As if we didn't have enough of them destroying our state to begin with.

Mike Foley, an attorney and grass-roots activist with a solid record of getting things done and who is endorsed by Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland city councilwoman Dona Brady and a good number of politicians in Brook Park.

And finally, there is Bill Ritter.

Now I'm sure this guy, a teacher who took out a mortgage on his house to get the money to run his campaign, is at heart someone who means well. But he doesn't strike me as being very bright.

With just over a week to go before the May 2nd primary, Ritter sent out a mail-piece attacking Foley for his position on gay marriage and even going a step further to attack the Stonewall Democrats, who support Mike. As if that weren't silly enough in a region generally friendly to Democrats and Progressives, Ritter placed his home telephone number on the mail-piece and invited people to call him.

Needless to say, Ritter has since been flooded with calls by bloggers and voters expressing their dissatisfaction with his attack.

The UAW union, which had until this incident backed Ritter, pulled its endorsement. Of two teacher's unions supporting Ritter, one (the Ohio Federation of Teachers) has only failed to withdraw its endorsement due to the shortness of time before the primary to hold a full meeting and take a full vote on an endorsement withdrawal.

The conservative newspaper Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Ritter's troubles Friday.

Further damaging his campaign is Ritter's whining in the face of his blunder. From the Plain Dealer article:
A distraught Ritter claims that the issue has been "blown out of proportion" by his critics, principally the Stonewall Democrats. "I'm getting harassed," he said. "I'm getting hangup calls, ranting calls where people are calling me lewd names. What they've done is immediately go on the attack, as opposed to checking the source and the intent.
Well, Bill, maybe you ought not to have given your home phone number out and invited people to call you any time they wished. It also might not have been a good idea to state the following in your mail-piece attacking said Stonewall Democrats:
I feel a Marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. That is the WAY I WILL VOTE in Columbus! In FACT Mike Foley has been ENDORSED by the STONEWALL DEMOCRATS, who are a GAY/LESBIAN political action committee.
Sounds like an attack to me. And one can certainly understand their anger at having had their name mentioned in what can only be taken by any reasonable person as a negative light.

The bottom line is that Ritter has made a series of blunders in his campaign.

First, it wasn't a good idea for him to have mortgaged his home to pay for his campaign because win or lose he is now stuck paying off that mortgage for years. The thing to do, especially when wanting to run for a representative office, would have been to go directly to the people Ritter wants to represent.

Second, it's probably not a good idea in an era of Republican corruption, deceipt and pandering on so-called "moral issues" to run on a platform pandering to voters on so-called "moral issues." If voters want Republicans in office, they'll vote Republican. If a candidate wants to run a non-Republican campaign--say, a Democratic candidate--then that person should run as a Democrat campaigning on Democratic issues. A good example of this is Barbara Ferris, who has plagiarized Republican Ed Herman's disgusting talking points in her delusional race to unseat Cleveland favorite and incumbent Dennis Kucinich from his U.S. Congressional spot in the House of Representatives. Herman, you may recall, is the Republican who ran against Dennis in 2004 only to lose by a wide margin.

Finally, if he don't want to get harrassed at home or subject his family to the calls of outraged citizens, it helps not to give out your home phone number! The thing to do if Ritter wanted input would have been to give the number of a campaign office, or work phone number where he could be reached. Or a special voice mail set up in his office, where only he would have been likely to answer calls. Just not his home number.

So, a note to Ritter (and any other Democrats who might want to run for office): Don't mortgage your house, don't tick off Democrats, don't run on GOP talking points, and oh yeah, don't give your phone number. Because, you know, that is kind of dumb.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

60 Minutes Interview: Bush Regime KNEW before invading Iraq had no WMDs.

Ladies and gentleman of the United States, if this doesn't have you outraged and calling for the immediate removal from office of the entire Bush regime, I don't know what will.

On 60 Minutes, CIA operative Tyler Drumheller reveals how in 2002 the regime deliberately manipulated intel on WMD's in Iraq. You may read the transcript by clicking here.

How many more smoking guns will it take, before the American public rises up and demands Congress finally and completely remove the Bush regime from power?

The state legislature of Illinois is trying to pass a resolution demanding impeachment proceedings begin, under a little-known rule of the House of Representatives. That rule, one of the oldest in the House, is "Section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature."

If Illinois HJR0125 passes, it will force the U.S. House to put aside all businesses to deal with the matter, under Section 603. And Illinois isn't the only state whose legislature is trying to get the federal Congress to do its job. California, Vermont, and Rhode Island are also working to pass similar resolutions in their legislatures.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the whole of the Bush regime are guilty of high crimes against the United States. They must be removed from office, each and every one. And since the U.S. House of Representatives, being under Republican control, refuses to carry out its sworn Constitutional duty to remove these criminals and traitors from office, it is the duty of the states themselves to force that body to take action.

Taking Back America, Part 5

This, probably as much as controlling the dialogue, is an important part of running for public office.

Every candidate needs money to run. But how, and from where should your money come? How is something you can learn by staying in touch with elected officials you've made connections with. Fundraisers, obviously, are important. But really, if you're going to run and tell voters you're accountable to them, you'll want to practice what you preach.

In determining who politicians are really loyal to, follow the money. If they get the bulk of their campaign funds from wealthy contributors, they're less likely to hold themselves accountable to the general public; votes may win elections, but money buys loyalty.

So this is where you'll want to differentiate yourself from your monied opponents.

Instead of trying to raise large amounts of cash from fewer donors, raise smaller amounts from a larger number. Howard Dean's tactic along this line; he's going to lay Democrats more than the big money pushers. People are asked to donate $10 here, $100 there, whatever they can afford.

This ultimately leads to a power-shift in the Democratic Party, something folks like Hillary Clinton are scared of. Because, as I said, money buys loyalty. And if the bulk of your campaign money comes from the Heinz Ketchup company...who do you think's going to have a bigger influence on the party platform?

I want you to try a little experiment. Go to ten of your friends, and ask each of them for three dollars on the promise you will pay it back within one week. By the time you've gone to all of them you should have raised thirty dollars. If they balk, and ask why you need the money, tell them the truth.

The point of this experiment is to test your money-raising skills. Yeah, you could ask for more but why push it when times are tough and the dollar just doesn't buy what it used to? Besides, you're going to give it all back anyway so there's really no point in asking for more. If you're going to have any hope of winning your first election, you will want to prove (to yourself, your potential constituents and to party bosses) you are able to convince people to shell out their hard-earned money on you.

Once you've raised that thirty dollars, pay it back to the people you borrowed it from. It'll show two things: that you can keep your word, and that you realize it's not your money. Always remember, you're not spending or raising your own money for your campaign; you're raising and spending someone else's money. This will help keep you honest in a world where money and power corrupt even the noblest of souls.

Don't have ten friends you can borrow from? Go door to door in your neighborhood, and take along a notepad and pen so you can write down names and addresses of the people who agree to lend you their three dollars. Once the experiment is completed, you can then return their money.

Try it out, and see what happens. The worst is that people say "no." But, if it works you'll have learned something that will help you in your bid to raise actual money for your campaign.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When Scandal Rears Its Head, Drag Out the Bogey-Man

Isn't it odd how every time another major scandal pops up for a member of the Bush regime, say, Donald Rumsfeld incurring the wrath of retired generals or--more recently--having been exposed as raking in $5,000,000 in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu (the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease), Osama bin Laden oh so conveniently pops his head out from under his rock?

Which brings me to the following train of thought:

Why the hell hasn't the Bush regime done a damned thing to capture bin Laden? How come the only time we ever seem to hear from the terrorist leader (bin Laden, not Bush, though both are terrorist leaders) is when some bit of scumbaggery by a member of the Bush regime is reported in the mainstream press? A bit that is big enough to lower the ol' poll numbers that much further?

With the Bushies trying to scare up support for yet another needless Middle Eastern war against a country that poses no threat to the U.S., and little things like a state legislature using a little-known rule to try and bring up much deserved and too long in coming impeachment proceedings against the Shrub, it is kind of convenient bin Laden's voice should once again surface to frighten everyone into submission.

And that leaves me wondering why.

I suppose the answer is that a perpetual bogeyman is great for scaring the public into following whatever shit-crazed insanity you want them to follow; George Orwell pretty much nailed that on in his book, 1984. As long as bin Laden roams free, there is always a convenient excuse to remain bogged down in Iraq, go to war against Iran and take away more of our civil liberties--all in the name of "national security."

2006 is a critical year for the GOP. If Democrats find their spine and enough voters are turned off by Republican corruption and criminality to hand control of Congress to the party now in opposition, the Bush regime's days are most assuredly numbered. If Democrats control the House, John Conyers (the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee) will become chair and bring forth impeachment proceedings.

And so, in tandem with more electoral fraud, the old scare tactics are brought out.

The Bush regime could find, capture or kill bin Laden if they wanted to. But they don't, and they won't because that would mean their biggest and most powerful tool for frightening the public into submission would disappear.

Must be nice, having your own personal bogey-man to drag out whenever you've done something incredibly corrupt or criminal.

Next Entry: Taking Back America, Part 5.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another Shake-Up At Bush White House = Beware a Wounded Animal

As retired generals come out in the open to publicly demand Rumsfeld's resignation, the rats continue to desert the sinking ship. White House paid liar Scott McClellan is quitting and chief political brain Karl Rove is being forced to give up dictating policy to George W. Bush.

The signs are pretty clear: the political pendulum is trying to swing the other way. It has been for years, which is why the GOP is so desperate to make sure the electoral process is rigged to maintain permanent control of the federal government.

Still, it doesn't hurt for one to get while the going's good. Just like Newt Gingrich, who was run out of D.C. only to slither back in under the radar, the members of the Bush regime know their time is almost over. They know political eras are inherently finite things, often going from extremely conservative to fairly liberal. And they bide their time, quietly working for the next time the pendulum swings their way.

This is not without precedent; Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney did it in '92 when Bill Clinton was elected president and Congress went to Democratic control--thus finally, mercifully, ending the Reagan/Bush era.

The Shrub's second stolen term in office isn't even halfway over, and he is back to being a lame duck dictator. It is evident in the way his senior-most people jump ship like the skulking rats they are.

But beware: a wounded animal is still highly dangerous. Despite a weakened military (no thanks to Rumsfeld's arrogant incompetence) and exposure of the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, the Bush regime is still going to try to repeat itself by going after Iran. The nation is a bit more wary now, with no WMDs in Iraq and Osama bin Laden still free and plotting against us. But that won't stop these power-mad dictators from trying to wage another war anyway.

Which is why we need to be ever more vigilant against the GOP and its election-rigging. 2006 is the critical year, and they know it. The Republicans know if Democrats take back even one chamber of Congress their plans are shot to hell. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that doesn't happen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Agreeing With Pat Buchanan

Watching Hardball's ninth anniversary show with Chris Matthew as I type this. Pat Buchanan and some Republican I've never heard of just got done talking over one another about illegal immigration.

I never thought I would find myself agreeing with the likes of Pat Buchanan, a true bigot who sickens me on many levels, but I do so on this particular issue.

Buchanan is advocating enforcing existing anti-illegal immigration laws and going after employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens with fines and jail time. I couldn't agree more.

This may sound surprising coming from a flaming liberal such as myself, but is it too much to ask that our own government honor the hard work and sacrifices of millions of legal immigrants to this country by doing everything in the realm of legality to ensure our laws are enforced and illegal invaders repelled?

It's like this; this country was built by immigrants, people who came to America legally to work legally and to legally become citizens of the United States. I'm talking about the Slavs, the Irish, the Chinese and other Asian nationals, Eastern and Western Europeans, Middle Eastern, African, and yes even Central and South Americans.

All of whom came here to start life anew legally. They came, assimilated into the culture and learned the language, at least their children did. That's what my great-grandparents did. And it's what millions of Americans' great-grandparents, grandparents and contemporaries did and continue to do. Why should we spit on their memory and the work of today's legal immigrants by offering amnesty and guest-worker status to foreign invaders?

I am not trying to denigrate the desperation that drives millions of Central and South Americans to risk their lives trying to cross the desert along our Southern borders and across the Gulf of Mexico. I can only imagine how shitty life must be for them in their own countries--rife with political corruption, oppression, drugs, death and crime. That's what happens in impoverished nations and it is only natural to want to escape it by any means necessary.

But we can't just allow people to come into our country breaking our laws and taking jobs that ought to go to American citizens both natural-born and naturalized, and people who have come here legally to become citizens.

George W. Bush is supposed to be enforcing the laws currently on the books to keep out illegal aliens. But he won't do it, because it's a growing source of cheap labor for his base--major corporations. Congress should force Bush to enforce our laws, but it won't because it too is beholden to corporate interests that want cheap labor they don't have to pay wages we Americans expect and demand under the law.

I agree with Buchanan, we need to go after those businesses that knowingly hire illegals and make high-profile examples of them. Try, convict and sentence them; force CEOs to pay heavy personal fines, and seek prison sentences for those who repeatedly refuse to comply with the law. And if some corporate asshole decides to try and punish his American workers with layoffs after being fined for employing illegals, then toss him in jail and throw away the key.

Sure, we may end up paying a tiny bit extra at the checkout counter at Wal-Mart. But it needs to be done, because Americans are losing their jobs to invaders and their facilitators who have no respect for our laws.

Once businesses realize we are serious about the issue, that they have something major to lose for hiring illegals, then I think you'll see illegal immigration level off and eventually decline. Once those invaders realize they're not going to get jobs here because their reason for coming here illegally has gone, they'll be forced to clean up their own nations and improve the conditions therein or else go somewhere else looking for work. And we can help them reform their own countries if need be, so they don't feel the need to break our laws and invade our country.

I do disagree with Buchanan on one point; I don't think building a wall will work because the desert kills thousands of illegals daily and so does the sea--Elian Gonzales's mother and every other stupid motherfucker that crowded onto that leaky boat in 2000 are good examples. People desperate enough to risk death to come here will find a way into the country. Only by cutting off their incentive to come here illegally will stem the tide. And in the meantime, we can take a serious second look at the restrictiveness of our immigration laws and--perhaps--reform them.

I know some people will think me horribly racist for saying all this. If you, dear reader, are one of those people then I have only one thing to say: fuck you.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Venezuela May Give U.S. Ambassador the Boot

A lot of people are justifiably worried the U.S. may decide to invade Iran before Bush's dictatorship enters its eight year. But if the latest development in Venezuela is any indication, Americans concerned about ever-rising oil prices may have even more cause for concern: Hugo Chavez threatened to expel the U.S. Ambassador.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to expel the US ambassador after accusing him of provoking tensions in a warning that will further strain diplomatic ties.

The threat came two days after pro-Chavez demonstrators lobbed eggs, fruit and vegetables at the ambassador's car and the State Department warned Venezuela it could face consequences if it did not protect the US envoy.

This is but the latest example of the Bush regime's open hostility to countries that don't tow the line on U.S. foreign policy resulting in more hostility in return.

Iit doesn't help that Bush failed to reign in the excesses of fellow fraud Pat Robertson when the latter called for Chavez's assassination last year. The lying sack of shit who has business dealings in the diamond industry in Africa and oil interests in South America, who is also founder of the 700 Club--a nationally sybdicated daily round of hate-speech, is a big name in both the religious right and in the neoconservative political movement.

Small wonder then Chavez thinks America is out to topple him from power, especially since Venezuela sits on oil reserves from which the U.S. derives a significant portion of its foreign oil imports.

But this isn't the first time this year the U.S. and Venezuela have kicked each other's officials out of their country; Chavez expelled a U.S. naval attache whom he accused of spying, and America in turn told a Venezuelan embassy official to leave.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney being big oil men greedy for foreign oil, count on any open military conflict they start with with Iran to spill over into South America.

But I digress. The U.S. ought to have learned by now it cannot embrace an antagonistic diplomatic policy without incurring any consequences. America is a superpower in decline, with China rising to its own superpower status. If Chavez decides he can broker a better deal with that country--which owns a sizeable chunk of U.S. debt and has recently begun pegging its currency to the Euro and away from the U.S. dollar--any further pissing contests could end up doing us more harm than anyone else.

Friday, April 07, 2006

More Info In CIA Leak Case

This should not be at all surprising, but it seems I. Lewis Libby has sung a bit for Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak case, saying George W. Bush had allegedly authorized leaking classified information to the press via Dick Cheney.

President Bush authorized White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to disclose highly sensitive intelligence information to the news media in an attempt to discredit a CIA adviser whose views undermined the rationale for the invasion of Iraq, according to a federal prosecutor's account of Libby's testimony to a grand jury.

The court filing by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time places Bush and Vice President Cheney at the heart of what Libby testified was an exceptional and deliberate leak of material designed to buttress the administration's claim that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear weapons. The information was contained in the National Intelligence Estimate, one of the most closely held CIA analyses of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the war.

Watch, however, as the Bush apologists in the mainstream media try to spin this. First they'll claim nothing illegal was done, because this was done by the "commander-in-chief"--as though that somehow excluded the Bush regime from following the law. Then, watch as the paid liars over at Fox "News" Channel cry "liberal media!" whenever someone raises a point they can't lie their way out of.

Fitzgerald is doing his job. He is rooting out the people responsible for disclosing the identity of a CIA NOC, in violation of federal law. And to that end, he is gathering solid evidence that cannot be dismissed.

You neocons had better wake up and accept the fact, if you haven't already, that your boys have repeatedly broken the law. And you had better accept that this fact means your bought-and-paid-for party, the Republicans, have so turned the public off that we're likely to see a significant change of power despite all the electoral fraud designed to maintain permanent Republican rule.

Monday, April 03, 2006

DeLay Is Finished

Oh my stars and garters, do my eyes deceive me? Looks like Tom "the Hammer" DeLay has thrown in the towel on his re-election campaign. I guess being under indictment for money-laundering does tend to kill one's chances of getting another term after all.

It's amusing to watch DeLay blame everyone but himself for his troubles. It has probably never occurred to him that his lawbreaking, corruption and inhumanity were what actually led to his downfall. Even while being prosecuted, his arrogance knows no bounds.

But this is good news. If one of the top Republican lawbreakers in the House of Representatives can come crashing down, then maybe there's hope for this country yet.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Taking Back America, Part 4b

In the previous two portions of this entry in the Taking Back America series, I explained some of what you can do to control the dialogue. For this final portion, I'm going to talk to you about controlling the religious debate.

Whether you consider yourself Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, some other religion or not religious at all, chances are any Republican you run against in an election is going to pander to the religious folk. He'll pander to the racists, homophobes, anti-feminists, the theocrats and the totalitarians of the religious right. In short, he'll use Christianity as a politcal tool in order to win votes.

Don't let your Republican opponent get away with this. In fact, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof, it's time to take back Christianity from those who have usurped it for political gain.

Running for office means you'll have to speak at some point to churchgoers and members of religious organizations. It may be distasteful to you if you're a nonbeliever, but if you want votes you'll have to do this. And you'll want to be armed with knowledge.

So here are a few passages from the bible to throw in the face of any Republican who panders to the nutzoids by playing to their homophobic or racist or sexist, or theocratic, or hypocritical anti-abortion yet pro-war, or stingy anti-tax/anti-social program, or nationalistic tendencies:
Matthew 5:9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

Matthew 5:42 - Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Matthew 7:1 - Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Luke 6:24 - But woe unto ye that are rich! for ye have received thy consolation.

Matthew 22:21 - Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.

Matthew 25: 35-46 (v 40 - And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.)
Even if you consider yourself an atheist, it is good to keep such passages in mind, for whenever you hear your Republican opponent condemn homosexuals, or taxation, or abortion, or anything that is in fact in keeping with the teachings of Jesus, you can use these passages and the ideals behind them to throw his rhetoric right back at him.

For too long, televangelists and other political wannabes have twisted Christ's teachings for their own greed and political agendas--all the while ignoring the actual teachings of Jesus Himself. And for too long, we've let them get away with it.

Try it and see what happens. Don't let your opponent rattle you, but remain calm and demonstrate that not only does he not have a lock on religion but also that there is another, forgotten side to it. One that is universal, and that is the ideals of tolerance, love, understanding and compassion.

And don't be afraid to read the Koran or the Jewish scriptures for when you speak to Muslim or Jewish groups. You don't have to believe what's in them, but you will want to know and understand what it is you're talking about when speaking to people about these universal ideals. Take back religion from those who have poisoned it. SHAME religious people into accepting that the values they are taught to practice and espouse are the ones their government should practice in its policies.

For really, are we as a society not judged by how we treat the least of those among us?