Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tiptoeing thru the Tiger Woods fiasco

Does wealth and fame exempt one from the laws and protocols that apply to us common folks? To use Sara Palin’s favorite term—“You betcha!!”

Frankly, I could care less about Tiger Woods sexual proclivities. That is between Woods and his wife.

What is at issue is Woods lofty claim that he does not have to answer to the Florida Highway Patrol or the police—because “it” is “private” matter. Really? If you believe that try it the next time you crash a car and are investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol or local police.

According to the facts Woods drove his car out of his driveway, weaves across a public street careening into a row of hedges, drove over a curb and swerved into a fire hydrant, then hit a tree. Anyone who does that is clearly incapacitated—but by what?

Apparently, the Florida Highway Patrol is satisfied with a witness —a Mr. Adams–who assured them that he could detect “no alcohol, no other type of drug whatsoever.” Again—really?? Did the Florida Highway Patrol check out Mr .Adams expertise that qualifies him for sniffing out “other” drugs that are otherwise only detected by blood tests?

Privacy? It is my understanding that when most of us get behind the wheel of a car and drive it out onto public streets, we forfeit our right to privacy—but then most of us are not famous or wealthy.

This is not to trash Tiger Woods. I feel his professional proficiency and high profile has served to inspire young men and women of color. It is a protest, however, against another example of the double standard that is often operating in cases like this.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Latest from the dark side

Charlie Teaparty To The Rescue

I ran into my old friend Charlie Teaparty the other day and he was carrying an armful of hand painted signs and had an angry expression on his face.

“Hi, Charlie. Where are you headed?”I asked.

“I’m goin’ to save this country from a national disaster,” he fumed.

“What national disaster?"

Old Charlie’s eyes narrowed to a squint. “You mean you ain’t heard about Obama tryin’ to turn us into a socialist country?”

“Are you talking about his health care proposals, Charlie?”

“ You darn tootin,”Charlie said, as he shoved a sign in front of my face. It said in crude lettering, “No Rationing! No Death Panels!”. Then, he switched to one that proclaimed,.”Hitler Were A Socialist!”

“ ‘WAS’ a socialist,” I said, pointing to the last sign.

“Well, I’m glad you agree,” Charlie replied with a touch of pride. He separated another sign that said “Don’t Mess With My Medicare!” Handing it to me he smiled, “You can take this one to the protest rally.”

I put my arms around his shoulders and explained, “Look, Charlie, none of that stuff is true. There are no ‘death panels’. They are not going to take away your medicare and Obama is not like Hitler! Where do you get his stuff?”

Charlie snatched the sign back. He squinted at me again and spoke in slow a deliberate cadence, “You don’t watch Fox News, do you? I’ll bet you don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh neither. Have you ever heard Senator Grassley speak?”

“Those are rhetorical questions, Charlie.”

“They ain’t no such things! They’s questions you don’t need to answer, ‘cause I already know the answers.”

I t was then I noticed he had something strapped to his back. “Is that an AK-47,” I asked in disbelief.

“It ain’t no popgun,” he replied.

“Why, in the name of sanity, do you need an AK-47 ?”

“Anybody who knows history kin tell you liberty needs to be reeefreshed by the blood of tyrants!”

I allowed as how I hoped he was speaking metaphorically and Charlie replied, “I only speak American.”

“And you think Obama is a tyrant, Charlie?”

Drawing himself up into what I suspect he felt was a superior posture, Charlie declared, “Well he ain’t an American. He was born in Kenya. I seen his birth certificate. It cost me some bucks but it was worth it to know the truth.”

“You have money to spend like that,” I asked.

“I have an investment that is gonna pay big dividends soon,” he confided. “I met this fella who let me get in on the ground floor of a deal to buy a bridge that will connect New York with a place called Brooklyn.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More GOP Hypocrisy

Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina should be impeached or forced to resign!

He lied to his constituents and went AWOL from his official duties for the better part of a week, leaving the State vulnerable--- with no way to contact him. What is it about dereliction of duty that the Governor,mainstream media,and his apologists don’t understand? It is irrelevant what he was doing on his secret getaway.

What he was doing on his getaway time is totally relevant to his wife and family but that is a separate issue from his responsibilities as an elected head of state. What he was doing in his absence is relevant to the hypocrisy factor in relation to the “family values” standards that evangelical bible thumpers hold in such public high esteem.

However, I would not hold my breath until his fellow Republicans call him to account.

Health Care Hypocrisy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Abortion Terrorists

What is the difference between an “Islamic” religious fanatic who beheads someone of a different faith and lifestyle---and an American “Christian” fanatic who shoots someone of a different faith and lifestyle?

What is the difference between “Islamic” religious organizations and leaders who sow the seeds of violence with the fervent embrace of hateful adjectives for their “enemies’----and “American” religious organizations and leaders who do the same?

What is the difference between “Islamic” religious organizations and leaders who extol those followers who commit murder and praise Allah----and those “American” religious organizations and leaders who extol those followers who commit murder and praise God?

The answer: We wage war against “Islamic” terrorists, their supporters and conspirators. We don’t, against abortion terrorists, their supporters and conspirators.

The answer: There has been an eight year avalanche of rhetoric, special legal construction and call to arms that fills the public discourse about the threat of “Islamic” terrorists to our country. There is a vacuum the size of the Grand Canyon when comes to defending American women and doctors from threats, intimidation and murders at the hands of abortion terrorists.

Where are the political leaders? Where are the scientific community leaders? Where are the mainstream religious leaders? Where is local law enfrocement? Why do we only hear the silence of the lambs?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some are above the law!

The torture justification memos contrived by the political hacks that ruled the George W. Bush Justice Department should be required reading for every American. Sadly that will not happen—and if President Barack Obama has his way the United States will move “forward” leaving yet another legacy of not holding accountable those responsible for war crimes.

To suggest as, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder did, that the CIA interrogators should have immunity from prosecution because the techniques were declared legal by Bush sycophants is equivalent to the Nuremberg defense that they “were only following orders”. It is an insult to any but the dimmest of intelligence!

When the torture started in 2002, the FBI objected to the techniques and withdrew from the questioning. CIA lawyers suspended their black hole operations for fear of criminal prosecution and demanded legal cover from the Justice Department. They received it the form of a secret memo by John Yoo and signed by J.S. Bybee, head of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel.

When Yoo and Bybee left the Justice Department, the new Office head, Jack L. Goldsmith apparently viewed the memo so legally incompetent, he advised not relying on that opinion, withdrew it and resigned in June of 2004. Goldsmith’s successor, Steven Bradbury resurrected the opinions, giving the CIA” legal” cover.

In 2005, the CIA was so fearful of legally being held accountable for what some of them knew to be criminal violations of our laws (not to mention international treaties), they destroyed 92 videotapes that documented the torture techniques. Apparently, Obama and Holder do not consider obstruction of justice as an offense worthy of accountability, either.

Moreover, the most offensive excuse for torture is the argument that its specific use on a “top Al Quaida” leader, Abu Zubayda, harvested vital information that has protected America—--specifically, yielding the name of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen whom Bush arrested for plotting to make a dirty bomb—a charge so flimsy that it was later dropped. They also claim Zubayda gave up the much sought after nickname of an Al Quaida leader known as KSM.

However, author and journalist Jane Mayer in her book Dark Side, points out that those two specific bits of information were given up before he was tortured---- and former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations reported that not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of his “confessions”.

Finally, the techniques adopted by the Bush administration are directly out of the interrogation manuals used by communist Russia and North Korea.

Imagine Americans being held for years without charges or trials. Imagine Americans being waterboarded a hundred times in a two week period (as was the case with Zubayda).Imagine Americans being sleep deprived for 11 days at a time, of being forced to kneel leaning backward at a 45 degree angle (and other stressed positions)for hours on end. Imagine repeatedly having your head slammed against a wall.

Imagine, the offending government having doctors there to facilitate the effectiveness of the techniques. Imagine the offending government, declaring such treatment is not torture because its puppet lawyers said so.

Now, imagine President Obama saying yes, we tortured but the perpetrators should not be held accountable. I can’t imagine it!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wayne LaPierre, NRA genius.

Back in January of 1990 the Wisconsin Legislature put forth mild support of an even milder attempt to get some control over guns and automatic weapons that were flooding the market.Wayne LaPierre was head of the Wisconsin wing of the National Rifle Association and made the case against any form of control—over any form of guns—including assault weapons and also including armor piercing bullets. Mr. LaPierre is now President of the NRA and his whacko arguments—one of which is seen in the cartoon below--- are the same now as they were back then. The only difference between now and then is the U.S. Supreme Right Wing Court agrees with him!

Murder facilitators at work.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

America Inc. revisited.

The election of Ronald Reagan in 1981 revitalized America Inc.—the merged assets of corporate, political and personal greed—that had been somewhat dormant since the 1930s. At the same time, a credible survey of University seniors, revealed in anonymous responses that large numbers of our potential future leaders were cheats. Significantly, the champion cheaters were business majors with 86% of them admitting they cheated.

President Reagan’s embrace of the 1930's trickle-down economics and his simpleton mantra of “government is the problem”not the “solution”struck a responsive chord in the hearts of millions of American voters. They loved his cue-card homilies, his welfare bashing and his deregulation fear mongering.

I mattered not that Reagan led us to abandon our progressive tax structure so as to enrich the wealthiest among us. It mattered not that Reaganomics increased our national debt from 2.5 % of the national economy when he took office—to 5% by the time he left. (The interest payments on the that debt went from $69 billion in 1981 to $169 billion at the end of his administration.)

It also mattered not that two years into Reagan’s first term, we experienced the worst recession since the great depression with an unemployment high of 10.8%.In short, the Reagan presidency started American Inc. on the road to our present destination.

We look back and see a path of unbridled greed, littered with corporate carcasses like Enron, Tyco, and Author Anderson--- that were once guided by corporate felons.

The zenith of de-regulation and the facilitation of corporate-political greed came under the aegis of George W. Bush, his evangelical right wing base and the Republican party. Texas Senator Phil Gramm led the charge.

After the 1929 stock market crash, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act that would separate commercial banks from investment banks (which deal with speculative trading and mergers) and thus encourage market stability.

In 1999 Senator Gramm shepherded a bill through Congress that gutted the Glass-Steagall Act allowing commercial banks, investment banks and insurers to merge—think Citibank, Travelers Group, Smith-Barney, etc. Then after George W. Bush’s election, Gramm slipped an amendment into an omnibus appropriations bill titled Commodity Futures Modernization Act. It deregulated derivatives trading and exempted energy trading from regulatory oversight----think the current economic disaster and the Enron debacle.

Meanwhile Un-curious George inherited a $236.2 billion surplus, spent over $500 billion in Iraq and walked away leaving a $1.3 trillion deficit. The Republican hypocrisy is palpable!

America Inc. roots.

In my opinion there is an important lesson to be learned from the current crisis caused by America Inc.—there is no such thing as compassionate conservatism. Notice: I did NOT say there is no such thing as A compassionate conservative.

The difference being, generally speaking, that conservatives of the Rush Limbaugh, Reagan, Bush, etc. species may, indeed, have their personal, individual compassionate moments and act them out to the benefit of another less fortunate individual.

However, they are not inclined to support compassionate efforts that require a collective financing beyond the abilities of a few individuals—particularly if those efforts go towards aiding others who are judged as lacking in total motivational skills.

In calculating the motivational math for their “boot straps” philosophy, the “compassionate” conservatives frequently do not factor in the lack of education, the bias of race and sex, IQ, the negative environmental influence—nor the stunted mental acuity any or all of these may have on an individual or group.

In their calculating, there is no consideration that some fellow human beings are not as mentally-emotionally swift as the rest of us--- but still have similar dreams and aspirations.

Hence, it is the fault of those who sign up for balloon mortgages they can’t afford, that caused the housing collapse.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

American values??

Captives were routinely beaten, slammed head first into walls, forced to stand for days, with their arms shackled above them (the John McCain experience in North Korea)–and some were waterboarded.

These are not words about some third world dictatorship. These are the words about U.S. policy--- from a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report----as a result of their access to 14 “high value” detainees after they were transferred from overseas CIA “black sites” to Guantanamo.The report concluded that the Bush administration treatment of al-Qaeda captives “constituted torture”.

Retired CIA agent John Kiriakou, who led a CIA team that interrogated al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah, confirmed the use of waterboarding and considered it a form of torture.

The U.S. Army Field Manual classifies such treatment, including waterboarding as torture.

These interrogation techniques are a violation of the Geneva Convention, an agreement the United States has signed and pledged to uphold.

The War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress, makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Convention .

Four military prosecutors at Guantanamo have resigned under protest over the rigged “legal” system established by the Bush administration.

What excuse is even remotely adequate to justify not pursuing an investigation and prosecution of those in high office that have led the United States down such a path?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

According to the Ft. Myers, Florida News Press editorial opinion, investigating and pursuing the lawless behavior or the Bush administration, should be viewed as a “fruitless partisan vendetta”. Even as the editorial presents its case for doing nothing, it concedes its speculation “that such transgressions occurred”, justifying them as “essentially policy” decisions.

Therefore the editorial logic is that illegal wiretapping and torture should not be investigated or prosecuted because those in authority that facilitated and executed the “transgressions” were merely following policy orders. This was the Nuremberg defense (“we were only following orders”), that the U.S. and the world so eloquently denounced at the post war trial.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have conceded authorizing the use of “harsh” techniques that included waterboarding. Waterboarding is defined as torture by the Geneva Convention, common sense and the Army Field Manual.The War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress, makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Conventions.

A U.S. district judge, in a stinging indictment ruled that President Bush’s domestic spying program violated the U.S. Constitution. George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley points out that if that decision is upheld on appeal, the President will be guilty of 30 federal law violations.

The real question is whether we, as the world’s leading democracy, are assuring our future by abandoning legal values and principles--- if their enforcement (defense of) includes the uncomfortable investigation and prosecution of those that we elect to uphold those very values and principles.

The answer lies in what separates us from dictatorships.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let's see if I"ve got this straight...

George Bush rewrites his legacy and apologists defend his administration with the justification that "We have not had a foreign terrorist attack on American soil in the seven years since 9/11." True, but conversely, we have not had a foreign terrorist attack on American soil in the seven years PRIOR to Bush’s election. By this measure, one could assume that President Bill Clinton was equally as accomplished at protecting us from foreign terrorists as President George Bush. Oops! That can’t be right! I forgot—George Bush WAS President when we had our first foreign terrorist attack. Wouldn’t that mean that Bush did not protect us as good as Clinton?? It is all so confusing!!

Words to be judges by.

As George Bush, not known for his verbal or mental acuity, flies off into the Texas sunset—he leaves us with this little jewel to contemplate: " Now is not the time to water down standards or roll back accountability."

He was referring to his No Child Left Behind law—but if President Obama and democrats in congress are serious about repairing the damage that the Bush administration has done to this country, they should take his advice and apply it to the Bush "legacy."

Start by upholding the clear "standard" that we are a country of laws and no one is above the law, including the President of the United States. George Bush was in direct violation of the law when he authorized warrantless wiretapping and electronic surveillance of thousands of Americans and enlisted the help of private telecom giants to facilitate the illegal acts. U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declared Bush’s domestic spying program unconstitutional and violates the Administrative Procedures Act, the doctrine of separation of powers and the First and Fourth amendments to the Constitution.

Then, uphold the American "standards" embodied in The War Crimes Act of 1996, which makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Conventions. Here, again, Bush elevated himself above the law by declaring that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to his "war" on terrorism and signed off on torture techniques lifted from the Chinese "training" manuals used by North Korea on captured Americans.

And what about upholding the "standards" that apply to the abuse of power? Bush declared that he had the power to detain and imprison anyone, including American citizens, indefinitely—while denying them legal council or contact with the outside world.

It would seem that the role of accountability is not in the lexicon of the buzz that emanates from democrats in congress or the Obama administration as they undertake their role as keeper of our "standards".

Richard Nixon resigned when his impeachment was imminent and left us no model for dealing with lawless presidential administrations. Indeed his final words on his behavior were that if the President breaks the law "that means it is not illegal!" Apparently, that is the only thing we have learned from Watergate.