September 17, 2005

Wheels of justice, part deux

Turns out some Louisiana judges have a heart after all...

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What have you learned, Dorothy?

Meanwhile, back in the world, India and Russia have (thankfully) put the brakes on the Administration's rush to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council, in an attempt to force condemnation or sanctions on "Axis of Evil Spoke #2". Guess Mr. Bolton didn't have a very good week either.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I like Iran - in fact, I'm old enough to have actually lived through the Iranian Hostage Crisis, seen yellow ribbons tied to every mailbox and tree and signpost on the block, and suffered the suddenly resurgent popularity of Tony Orlando and Dawn. And yet, I can't help but remember the last time the Bushies were absolutely convinced that an Islamic country was hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons; demanded United Nations sanctions and condemnation; and decided ultimately to just "go with their gut" 'cause we were all in imminent danger.

Look how well THAT turned out...

Apparently other nations haven't forgotten either. According to George's friend Vladimir:
"I'd like to point out that the potential of diplomatic solutions to all these questions is far from exhausted," Mr. Putin said, adding that it was necessary to take steps "to settle all these problems and issues, not to aggravate them, not to bring them to extremities."
I'd like to have believed that the White House learned something from the last two years down Baghdad way. Things like... the UN inspections were working. And... imposed sanctions contributed to the deaths (and enduring ill will) of thousands of Iraqi citizens. Or maybe... the intelligence driving their conclusions just might not have been completely reliable. And how 'bout... there were no goddamn nuclear weapons in Iraq after all!

But then I come back to Kansas, and realize which White House it is I'm talking about.

Oh well. At least we know the Administration has the capability of rushing forward on something that piques its interest. And we know that, as aggravating as the UN truly can be sometimes, there are some global leaders in its halls who've actually paid attention to the lessons of Iraq.

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Wheels of justice?

Need another example of truth, justice, and the American way in New Orleans? Check out this unbelievable story, courtesy of Snips of Reality...

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September 16, 2005

Mixed reviews

No, I'm not ducking the opportunity to comment on last night's Presidential address. I think it's painfully clear that the well-crafted words delivered by Mr. Bush were... well, literally the only PR option left open to him. Where was this "sincerity", this "humility", a week ago? Answer: Nowhere. It wasn't even a glimmer yet in Karl Rove's eye.

Only after ten days of hastily orchestrated, and ultimately unsuccessful, spinning in every direction possible, did the Administration come to the realization that they'd better try a new approach, or risk a downward spiral from which there was no escape. I could jump on that bandwagon, but there are already plenty of others with national forums who've drawn those same obvious conclusions, with far more eloquence than I. Read on.

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Racial politics

There's a great deal of justified public indignation currently, over what is being billed in the press as the “vast racial divide”, exposed in the aftermath of Katrina. And while there is a terrible truth that African Americans bear an entirely disproportionate burden of poverty status in the U.S., it is that poverty status itself that should be the real story here. Had a comparable disaster struck Logan, Mingo, or Boone Counties in West Virginia, for example, I’m willing to bet we’d have witnessed a similarly sluggish federal response, but in a slightly different hue.

Kanye West was only half right. The Bush Administration doesn’t like POOR people.

Even a cursory examination of White House policies and loyalties over the past five years shows clearly which social class is most favored by our President. It's that top one percent. It's the corporation with a Cayman mailbox. It's the "haves and have mores" that Conservatives call their base, an exclusive club that does happen to include members of more than one complexion.

Again, the serious and unique economic roadblocks confronting a majority of African Americans cannot be ignored, and in this day and age are a genuine disgrace. But I think we should remember that the “race card” has also been used historically by those in powerful places to keep the masses distracted from the real wall of separation in our society. And that wall has always been defined by income bracket, no matter where in the nation, or when in history, you look for comparisons.

If you really think about it, you, like me, have seen countless examples
in your lifetime of multi-hued groups united not because of a common race, but because of their shared rung on the economic ladder. Black or white, young or old, it has always been class that insidiously divides us. And as long as we allow the powers that be to keep us occupied, bickering over skin color alone, chances are we’ll once again lose sight of that Administration hand in the national cookie jar.

This dynamic is not unique to the Bushies. The class war has simmered in this country since that first George took that first oath in 1789, and has continued under Administrations of all political stripes. It’s just that this bunch in Washington is shockingly blunt about it. And, for perhaps the first time in our history, the slow disenfranchisement of the “have nots” has expanded to include significant numbers of the middle class as well.

Our leaders and the media have grown quite proficient at playing up the racial aspects of every topic, so that our focus and debates stop there. Of course, there still are glaring problems involving race that plague the country from coast to coast. But let’s not be duped again into looking only at the issue of black vs. white, while losing sight of the broader inequities being exploited by the Party in power.

The only color they care about is green.

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September 15, 2005

The more things change...

...the more they stay the same.

Wouldn't it make perfect sense to eliminate political bias and advantage from an investigation into the failed Katrina response? Wouldn't it be logical to take a hard, independent look at areas that need strengthening (if not outright overhaul) in our civil defense? Wouldn't it seem more urgent than ever, with what we've witnessed over the past two weeks, to lay petty partisanship aside, and ponder these issues outside party lines?

The more things change...

(p.s. Take a moment, and read Bob Cesca's thoughts on "accepting responsibility".)

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The conscience of America

The headline reads "Massachusetts Lawmakers Reject Bid to Stop Same-Sex Marriages". By an overwhelming margin of 157 to 39, men
and women of reason shot down yet another attempt to strip loving gay couples of the rights they've held in the state for the last two years. Thanks, Massachusetts, for once again being the conscience of America - it's comforting to know that there's a place in this NASCAR Nation where things like tolerance and common sense still rule.

And it's a funny thing, isn't it? Two years of legalized same-sex marriages have not brought the Bay State to a crashing halt. The "foundation of... our culture" has not cracked at its core, condemning Massachusetts to the Almighty's inescapable wrath (see: Gulf states). Social order has not dissolved into depraved anarchy in the Bostonian suburbs. Statewide, citizens continue to work and shop, go to school and church, raise families, buy homes, take vacations. According to the Washington Post...
Politicians here credit the weddings themselves with shifting the political momentum, saying their growing ordinariness has defused (sic) some of the opposition.

"The difference is that we have marriage," said state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios... "We've got a world that hasn't changed."
Imagine that. Folks just carrying on with their normal lives, undamaged and unaffected by the fact that Dan and Bill next door were able to make
a binding commitment to each other, no differently than Pete and Cathy down the block. All in two years' time.

And just like all those other things that once threatened the bedrock of our culture, according to the strident voices of the narrow-minded (you know, things like long hair, and birth-control, and interracial dating), this, too, has simply become what it's really been all along - an everyday, non-
threatening, unencumbered part of a forward-thinking society.

Imagine that.

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September 14, 2005

A modest proposal

Just wanted to share.

For those of you who may have missed it last Friday, political comedian and provocateur Bill Maher gave voice to an idea whose time is certainly long past due...
...finally, New Rule: America must recall the president.

That's what this country needs. A good, old-fashioned, California-style recall election! Complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses and action film stars. And just like Schwarzenegger's predecessor here in California, George Bush is now so unpopular, he must defend his job against...
Russell Crowe. Because at this point, I want a leader who will throw a phone at somebody. In fact, let's have only phone throwers. Naomi Campbell can be the vice-president!

Now, I kid, but seriously, Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best - lose interest and walk away.

Like you did with your military service.

And the oil company.

And the baseball team.

It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in... PLEASE DON'T.

I know, I know - there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.

Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...

Maybe you're just not lucky!

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."
Maybe it's not so farfetched. Maybe a petition with, oh, say 70 million disgruntled signatures would do the trick.

After all, it's still our country, right?

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September 12, 2005

Finger on the button

...and in the category of "Who The F#$% Thought This Was A Good Idea?", some fresh plans from the Pentagon concerning the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons.

Aren't things in Washington scary enough already?

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September 11, 2005

Remembering

It was eerie here this morning, the way the sky was flawlessly blue, the temperature in the low 70’s, the air so clean and clear with the promise of a perfect day ahead. Exactly the same as that morning. A first hint of fall. A bit more bounce in everyone’s step as they walked to work, filed into their office buildings, joked with friends and co-workers at the company coffee machine.

Then, the unimaginable. Two airliners, a horrifying plume of smoke and dust, a world changed forever.

You know, I don’t like days like this anymore. Such glorious weather, which should fill us all with a sense of hope and optimism and “I can do anything” spirit, instead stirs in me a feeling of foreboding. There are too many memories that rush to the surface, triggered by the hint of a breeze on a crisp September morning.

I can’t help but think of the fear and confusion that overwhelmed us all at that time. The miles and miles of heart-wrenching fliers pasted to every square inch of Manhattan wall space, helpless cries for information about missing spouses and children and parents and lovers, all lost in the blink of an eye. Long trips on foot through National Guard checkpoints to bring water, food, encouragement to rescue and recovery volunteers, and residents whose neighborhoods no longer functioned. Placing flowers at the local firehouse, and crying openly with firefighters simply because there were no adequate words to say. The faces of my two friends, gone forever in a hell of flame and rubble. The smells of electrical fires and decaying flesh that lingered in the air until December.

So I wonder on this day, four long years later, if our leaders, our President, have really learned anything from the terrible lessons delivered to us that morning. If they’ve spent the past four years doing all they can to protect the American people from a repeat of that fateful moment. If they’ve sought out the best minds available to confront those issues that led to the attack. If they’ve put childish things aside, and grown beyond their limitations to do some serious work on our behalf, and, more importantly, on behalf of creating a more tolerant, peaceful world.

Sadly, the answer seems to be a resounding “no”.

As we watch the Bush Administration's bastardization of this solemn anniversary, its continuing exploitation of 9/11 to justify the unjustifiable slaughter of innocents half a world away, its persistence in rewarding the inept while making the world a more dangerous place than ever before, we must vow to channel our anger and indignation into forcing a change in Washington. We have to get actively involved in whatever ways we can to demand intelligence and accountability from those who hold the power. We should join in the chorus of voices that will descend on D.C. September 24th, and insist on an end to the inexcusable folly this President contends is the right course of action. We must rise up and say, “NO MORE”.

To do any less is to allow this Administration to perpetually dishonor the memories of the many who lost everything that clear, blue fall morning. And that we simply can’t abide.


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