Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: The Fourth Reich Rises Again

It’s been quite a decade. Look how far we’ve come in the last ten years. The Right Wing rose to power by crushing democracy in 2000. The Bush Administration went on to expand our debt to unheard of levels. They undermined our Bill of Rights with warrantless surveillance, torture, and utter disregard of Habeas Corpus. They started two wars they couldn’t finish, one of which was based entirely on falsehoods.

That all went well, didn’t it?

Now we sit at the end of 2010 and see the resurgence of the Right. Somehow they took control of Congress by convincing the voters to give the party of debt, war, and greed another shot at power. I’m sure things are going to get rosy now.

What happened? In 2008 enough Americans turned out to vote for a different party to govern. Do you think somewhere in the American brain there’s a sense that if you can’t fix eight years of damage in two years, then give it all back to the same irresponsible bunch to finish their demolition? No, something else has been at work here.

We live in dark times. The Radical Right is out to destroy presidencies voted in by democratic majorities. The Right hates democracy. When voters chose Clinton, they went to work at undermining him any way possible. Policy differences were not an issue. Their preferred tactic was the politics of personal destruction.

Then voters chose Obama. Now it is Obama’s turn. Never mind if Obama advocates the same thing favored by the Right, they will oppose him. For the Right it is all about gaining their dictatorial lock on power. We’ve heard from them that they will not compromise. Fascism and compromise never did mix well, did they?

Why is it that a shameless party with nothing good to offer the people has climbed back into power? In a word, FOX.

Yes, the Right has their own propaganda ministry working 24/7 to convince Americans to vote for Republicans. I use the word propaganda for good reason. FOX(R) is not a real news channel. FOX(R) has no journalistic standards and no intentions to report truth. They are a Right Wing political operation that relies on the American public to falsely believe they are a “fair and balanced” news network.

In August of 2009 when health care reform was the issue of the day, Frank Luntz, the GOP newspeak spinner, was coaching Sean Hannity on how to discuss the public option. Luntz argued that "if you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split, if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." Luntz said that the program would be "sponsored by the government" and falsely claimed that it would also be "paid for by the government."

Hannity liked it and replied, "You know what, it's a great point, and from now on, I'm going to call it the government option."

Not only did they never use the term public option again, it soon morphed into “government takeover of health care”. No doctor for you until the socialist government says so. They’re gonna put a gubmint bureaucrat between you and health care. Yup, and then they’re gonna make Grandma go beg for mercy in front of a death panel.

The term public option was targeted for removal from conversation by FOX (R). In October 2009 Bill Simmons wrote an email titled “friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the ‘public option’”. Of course the FOX crew complied.

And they also dutifully injected the idea that climate change was not real. Whenever climate change or global warming was mentioned they would falsely insist there was no scientific consensus on it. Tell that to the shrinking glaciers and Arctic ice, the thawing tundra, and drowning polar bears. FOX and Rush know more than dumb old scientists anyway, but this is a topic for later.

I wonder if anyone thinks the 2010 election would have different if the voters who believe Obama is a Marxist Muslim didn’t show up at the polls. I bet Congress would still have a Democratic majority if not for ignorance and the deliberate misinformation provided by FOX(R).

But don’t take my word for it. A survey was done by World Public through the University of Maryland, the Center on Policy Attitudes and the Center for International and Security Studies. They wanted to measure the degree of misinformation in American voters. Guess who were the most misinformed? FOX(R) viewers, of course.

We learn that FOX(R) viewers were "significantly more likely" to believe that:

--Most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely)
--Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points)
--The economy is getting worse (26 points)
--Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points)
--The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points)
--Their own income taxes have gone up (14 points)
--The auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points)
--When TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points)
--And that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points)

This is why democracy is doomed in America. Mission Accomplished FOX(R). In the world of Right Wing power Ignorance is strength.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bush v. Gore Plus Ten

The ten year anniversary came and went last week with little, if any, media attention. The minority of Americans with a functional memory vividly recall December 12, 2000 as the definitive point in history that democracy was finally killed in the US by the radical Right. As for the corporate media, they didn’t really care too much about bringing attention to this anniversary of a very crucial Supreme Court decision.

I suppose it may be due to our new era of bi-partisan “looking forward”. I’d guess that’s the reason why we can’t look back and investigate anything involving the Bush/Cheney cartel. I have a feeling Obama will be investigated up the wazoo soon after the next Republican congress gets together. But that’s different, right?

It is no exaggeration to say democracy was crushed when the Right Wing majority of the Supreme Court denied the majority of American voters a fair recount in Florida on December 9th, and gave the presidency to George W. Bush on December 12th. The half million more Americans who voted for Gore over Bush had their voices silenced by a Right Wing majority of five of nine.

The US had suffered a coup d'état.

Little did unsuspecting Americans know at the time that the prejudice, bias and cronyism of Republican Supreme Court justices would seal the fate of a nation, along with uncounted thousands of human lives in the ensuing wars of choice. The case of Bush v Gore reeked of conflict of interest and was devoid of precedent, law, and justice.

As a dark omen of the cronyism to come, we know the friendship between Justice Scalia and Dick Cheney went back over a quarter of a century. Perhaps if Dead-eye Dick had shot his duck hunting pal instead of his quail hunting pal things would have turned out better for the world.
Of course the Scalia/Cheney cronyism was not the only influence. Rehnquist, Thomas and O’Connor all had issues of conflict of interest as well.

For those with enough curiosity and interest in our recent history, I’d like to offer you revealing look at the likely, or even illegal, conflict of interest in that Right Wing court decision. These are but a few snippets from: The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Spring 2003 by Neumann, Richard K Jr


Conflicts of interest in Bush v. Gore: Did some justices vote illegally?

On December 9, 2000, the United States Supreme Court stayed the presidential election litigation in the Florida courts and set oral argument for December 11. On the morning of December 12-one day after oral argument and half a day before the Supreme Court announced its decision in Bush v. Gore-the Wall Street Journal published a front-page story that included the following:

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 76 years old, and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, 70, both lifelong Republicans, have at times privately talked about retiring and would prefer that a Republican appoint their successors. . . . Justice O'Connor, a cancer survivor, has privately let it be known that, after 20 years on the high court, she wants to retire to her home state of Arizona . . . . At an Election Night party at the Washington, D.C., home of Mary Ann Stoessel, widow of former Ambassador Walter Stoessel, the justice's husband, John O'Connor, mentioned to others her desire to step down, according to three witnesses. But Mr. O'Connor said his wife would be reluctant to retire if a Democrat were in the White House and would choose her replacement. Justice O'Connor declined to comment.

In a story published the following day, Christopher Hitchens, the United States correspondent for the Evening Standard of London, wrote that "O'Connor . . . has allegedly told her friends and family that she wishes to retire from the Court but won't do so if there is to be a Democratic president to nominate her replacement." Helen Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote that "[t]he story going around [Washington] is that a very upset Justice Sandra Day O'Connor walked out of a dinner party on election night when she heard the first mistaken broadcast that Vice President A Gore had won. The ailing O'Connor apparently wants to retire, but not while a Democrat is in the White House and could pick her successor." Various parts of this story were repeated in a number of publications.

The following week, Newsweek published a more detailed account:

[A]t an election-night party on Nov. 7, surrounded for the most part by friends and familiar acquaintances, [Justice O'Connor] let her guard drop for a moment when she heard the first critical returns shortly before 8 p.m. Sitting in her hostess's den, staring at a small black-and-white television set, she visibly started when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Al Gore. "This is terrible," she exclaimed. She explained to another partygoer that Gore's reported victory in Florida meant that the election was "over," since Gore had already carried two other swing states, Michigan and Illinois.

At the time Bush v. Gore was decided, Chief Justice Rehnquist had often been described in the press as a person who would like to retire but would delay doing so until a Republican president was in office and in a position to nominate a successor who could be confirmed by the Senate.

The press has reported several times that Justice Scalia confided in others that he would like to become the next Chief Justice and that he understood that that could happen only during a Republican presidency. During the time Bush v. Gore was being litigated, Justice Scalia's son John worked at the law firm that represented the Bush campaign in the Florida courts, and Justice Scalia's son Eugene was a partner at the law firm that represented the Bush campaign in the Supreme Court.

On December 4, 2000-while Bush v. Gore was pending before the Supreme Court-Virginia Lamb Thomas, Justice Thomas' wife, sent an email to 194 Congressional aides, suggesting that if they wanted assistance in being considered for positions in the next administration, they could forward their resumes to one of Mrs. Thomas' coworkers at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that collaborates with the Republican Party. In addition, according to the Wall Street Journal, during her previous employment with a Republican leader in House of Representatives, Mrs. Thomas "spearheaded a leadership effort to gather embarrassing information about the Clinton-Gore administration."


As Justice O’Connor said, “This is terrible!”

Well, maybe, Sandi, but you ain't seen nothin’ yet.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Hero's Vote

Maybe some of you are also World War II history readers. And maybe you also saw the HBO series “Band of Brothers”. This was an excellent adaptation of Stephen Ambrose’s book of the same title.

The book and series follow the brave men of Easy Company through the war as they jumped and fought with the 101st Airborne Division from the D-Day invasion of Normandy, to the failed “Operation Market Garden” in Holland, and to the incredible heroic defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

I have a particular personal interest in the Battle of the Bulge because my father-in-law served in the 318th Infantry Regiment in Patton’s Third Army. The 318th was the infantry support for the 4th Armored Division as they broke through the German lines to relieve Bastogne. I had lost one second cousin killed and another captured in that same battle.

We hear them rightly referred to as the “Greatest Generation” for all they went through. They grew up in the Great Depression and fought to victory in the Second World War. They saw our country endure hardships we can only imagine in our worst case scenarios of Republican rule.

While Republicans under Herbert Hoover were collapsing the economy and George W. Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush was doing business with Nazi Germany, other Americans were re-electing Franklin D. Roosevelt. Apart from the Americans in uniform, those are the other members of the Greatest Generation to whom we owe a great debt. If not for their votes, we’d have no Social Security, no New Deal, and perhaps Republicans would have sided with Germany before the war. Nobody likes to talk about it, but there were large Nazi rallies in the US before the war.

I want to share with you the words of one member of that Band of Brothers who both fought in the war and voted for FDR. He was wounded in Normandy and again in Holland. Shortly before he was shot in the leg, he voted for the first time in his life. His words seem to ring truer today than back in October of 1944. Here is what he wrote about his first time voting in his book, “Parachute Infantry”.


My First Vote

I had to walk almost two miles to cast my ballot, but I would have walked ten, if necessary, because this was my first vote-I was 22 in June-and I had always wanted to cast it for Roosevelt, the greatest President we had ever had and the only one who ever gave the working man a break.

Roosevelt had faced and overcome the two great crises America had ever suffered: the worst depression in history and the world’s biggest war. He was a politician, as crafty and conniving as any, for politics is a cesspool of lying lawyers, but his work was greater than the man, and the country was better for it.

The rich Republicans hated Roosevelt for helping the working man, for encouraging the labor unions to wring a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work out of employers who had never heard of such a thing before and for putting into effect fair employment practices that they considered outrageously Socialistic.

Roosevelt helped the unemployed when Herbert Hoover, the last Republican, an engineer who never quite understood humanity, had said, “Let every man help his brother,” when he knew perfectly well that the rich weren’t about to help the poor, never had and never would.

I had grown up with Republicans and gone to school and college with them, and sickened by their selfishness, their cold avarice, and lofty contempt for the common people, had early sworn to vote for the Democrats, who, for all their rotten political faults, were more concerned with the welfare of the country as a whole.

David Kenyon Webster - Holland 1944, with Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division


A lot of us are tired of Obama and the Democrats, with their endless capitulation and “pre-compromise” with Republicans. A lot of us are ready to give up, and it’s hard to not sympathize with those of us frustrated by politics.

But, I for one don’t want this man’s vision to die. He fought for our right to continue the struggle against those in our country who do not want what is best for us. There is an entire party that puts money ahead of country. I will never stop doing everything I can to stop Republicans from destroying our freedoms, our economy, and our future, even if it means voting for those Democrats with their “rotten political faults”.

Too much depends on it.