Monday, December 29, 2008

Craig's Celebrity in Crapper

Alas, U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has run out of his 15 flushes of fame. While even Jesus' maybe image in food products, clothing and architectural features gets a shrine, the monument to the formerly famous toe-tapper is monumental no more.

According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, interest dwindles in his airport arrest site. Toilet tourists are so 2007. People no longer seek out the stall where the pol polled police.

The two flashes for the flusher seem to have been a skit on the Daily Show and a bid of $5,000 for the stall. The humorless Minneapolis bureaucrats didn't allow Jon Stewart's team to film inside the stall walls, nor did they accept the bid.

Moreover, after Craig had allegedly peered into the neighboring stall of a cop and repeatedly reached his hand (only in the non-gayest way, of course) under the wall, no privacy modifications have happened. "The restroom looks exactly as it was when the senator was arrested," said Patrick Hogan, director of public affairs for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. "Why spend tens of thousands of dollars, when the problem had dissipated due to the publicity over the senator’s arrest?"

You'd suspect that if a taco with an allegedly holy sort-of image deserves a shrine and high eBay bid that Craig's seat of shame would too. I bet if he'd chosen a stall in a less frequented location, he'd be set for infamy. Instead, this arrest occurred in the busiest john in the airport. Pervs come, pervs go. Vice charges happen. Craig, it seems is all too common.

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Kicking Prop 8 Dirt

The Mass Family folk know how to leverage even tangentially related themes and event. They figure they can make a buck on California's Proposition 8...and rub the pro-equality folks' noses in it at the same time.

They don't have the announcement on their site yet. The link in their email news blast is, shall we say, impotent. The news is that on Saturday, January 10th, they are sponsoring the Celebrate Prop 8! fundraiser.

For only $18, you can figuratively kick the GLBT folk around the hall. You can still make your nap time too. This is earlier than the early-bird special, running from noon to 2:30 in Quincy, California Massachusetts.

I never cease to be astonished that these malevolent bozos insist they are pro-family. In this particular instance, they state, "The passage of Prop 8 was a critical win for family values. While radical homosexuals show their true intolerance across the country with violent, disruptive and hateful protests, we want to show our support for those who stood up for marriage."

Back in the real world, the Prop 8 supporters aimed to stop same-sex marriages in California. They are also attempting to nullify the 18,000 or so already legalized. These are many of the same folk who would outlaw adoption by single adults or sames-sex couples. In other words, they are anti-marriage, anti-family and willing to let kids linger in orphanages or foster homes.

So, there's a chance to celebrate the misfortune of others and the stripping of existing rights from fellow citizens. That sounds like the makings of a real party.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Prey and Pay


Make it stop. Evil doers seem to have increasingly fallen into a delusory atonement...all with the abetment of the legal system.

How much cleaner and easier it seems to have become for major transgressions against individuals and the public to buy your way out. How much neater and simpler to attorneys general and prosecutors to take the check and say, "All square."

Consider just recently:
  • The commonwealth's Ethics Commission fined the governor's economic development aide $10,000 for sewing up the $350,000-a-year presidency of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and using his state position to give that group's members tax breaks. He neither lost his job nor paid an onerous fine. Of the $10,000, he did not beg forgiveness and admit guilt, just saying, "I'm glad to have this matter resolved. I have a great job and I love coming to work every day to lead an organization that represents not just jobs and growth opportunities, but most importantly improving the lives of patients."
  • On a corporate level, Exxon Mobil bought off prosecution for a major diesel-fuel spill in Everett. It paid $6.1 million to settle a criminal charge. Because its management and operations folk did not maintain equipment, leading to the pollution, it also will have a court-appointed monitor there for three years. The clods who didn't do their jobs will remain unnamed and unpunished.
  • Ex-State Senator Dianne Wilkerson may be facing corruption charges, but she already bought her way out of charges that would have sent many of us to jail. She admitted to not paying income taxes for multiple years, civilly she fought and lost a trial that she stiffed her condo association and wrote them repeated bad checks, also she cut a deal with AG Martha Coakley for repeated campaign-finance violations. She too paid fines and wouldn't have spent a month in a halfway house if she hadn't also violated curfew.
  • In the most extreme of the recent bunch, Powers Fasteners paid $16 million to Boston and Massachusetts for dropping manslaughter charges from a tunnel ceiling-tile collapse that killed JP resident Milena Del Valle. Here again, this was tit for tat. There will be no prosecution of the company as a legal person nor any effort to identify responsible people at Powers.
Those are not unique, rather typical. At light and heavy, this behavior has occurred for ages.

Indulgences as they took detailed form in the middle ages required that a sinner:
  • Repent of a specific sin
  • Confess the sin
  • Pay a penalty
The back story includes the assumption that Jesus dying on the cross for all of us already brought us forgiveness for nearly everything. We just needed to complete the cycle.

In infamous reality, of course, in the medieval world and still somewhat now, people would and did buy indulgences. Rather than listening to specific liturgies, attending retreats or performing other acts of penance, folk let money be their atonement. Some even paid upfront.

With cynicism and expeditiousness, attorney generals, prosecutors, regulators and elected officials tamp down morality and legality alike. They'll take the clearly achievable. They'll do a Dick Nixon and proclaim victory by compromises and sellouts.

No doubt, it is easier to fine an offender rather than pursue an investigation and trial. The alleged enforcers can and do claim then that they swung the hammer of justice and exacted penalty and repentance.

Instead, we see fines for major corruption and campaign-finance violations equal to NFL penalties. Patriots' Wes Welker got a league penalty of $10,000 for a four-arm-flap snow angel beyond the end zone. Granted politicians get less pay on average, but that fine would be a major one for their corruption charges.

Yet, we simpleminded bluenoses remain unconvinced. What does a small or even moderate fine do? Do we have any fantasy that this will prevent others, or even the same evil doers, from repeating or varying their crimes? When the penalty is far less that what would compensate the victims, how would that dissuade the malefactors?

Swindlers and politicians do not use guns or even threat of violence. They do not commit petty drug offenses that bring long prison terms. They have enough money and buddies with money to afford more justice than someone from the low or middle classes.

The most cynical among us can say, "That's the way the system works." It doesn't have to and the message from the likes of our governor and incoming President should be that justice demands more than what someone can get by with and what is easy to negotiate with a defense team.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chuck Turner All In


William Ramsey Clark, Esq., will be 81 tomorrow. Apparently he'll celebrate by association with our own Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner. The latter is under indictment for extortion and lying to the FBI. The former seems to be leaving the stage very poorly.

In this era and this season of high-priced theater tickets, we should thank Turner. As drama queen extraordinaire, he presents his show for free.

I am sure I would not want to be a passenger when Chuck drives. It must be at high speed and right next to the canyon drop off. In this case, he chose a both famous and infamous lawyer. For a pissant case that either is or isn't simple bribery, yoking himself to a one-time anti-war humanitarian turned war-criminal defender is a look-at-me-right-now decision Turner is almost sure to regret.

As the Herald quotes local defense guru Robert George, this is a "high stakes gamble." He added that Clark's involvement"on behalf of any criminal defendant is a high-profile endorsement of a person’s innocence, (but) this was the defense attorney for people such as Saddam Hussein, which some people may take the wrong way."

I'm not huge on Wikipedia, but the entries for Clark and some of his more reviled client are rife with references and detail. For your amusement check:
The list of Clark's clients includes, Nazi concentration camp commandant Karl Linnas, Branch Davidian leader David Koresh, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana (eader in the Rwandan genocide), and contract killer Joe "Mad Dog" Sullivan.

In fairness, he was generally on defense teams for the worst of his clients. He also took on clients who were prosecuted for their anti-war activities here, as well as Lori Berenson, nabbed in Peru in a political incarceration. His few cases like those are overwhelmed by his choice of mass murders and war ciminals. Defending the unpopular client doesn't make one an Atticus Finch.

In Turner's instance, we can set aside his flair for the melodramatic. Instead, let's ask what the devil was he thinking? It almost has to be that the higher the profile of his prosecution, the greater his chances of prevailing.

He shouldn't count on it. Consider:
  • Milošević — Indicted 1999 and finally to trial when captured in 2002. A flood of witnesses to his genocide and war crimes was sure to bring conviction. He sicked, maybe exacerbated by the stress, and died in prison.
  • Karadžić — Finally captured after a long-term fugitive life. He is in the Hague awaiting his trial. He too faces many witnesses and much evidence of heinous crimes against humanity in killing thousands of Bosnian Muslims.
  • Hussein — Convicted of and hanged for his crimes.
So, Turner is not up for capital crimes. With the current indictments, at worst he'd face short-time prison and a few thousands of dollars in fines. Yet, it seems as though he would have gone with a better track record from his legal horse.

Many laugh at Turner for this theatrics, yet no one seems to question his guts, just his judgment. In advance of a public announcement today of his latest elevation (farther to fall, though) of this case, Turner's defense site includes:
Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General and recipient of the 2008 United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, will be in Boston on Wednesday, December 17 to voice his support in the defense of Chuck Turner and demand that the government immediately drop the frame-up charges. He will focus attention on the role that the US Attorney’s office and the FBI has played in the politically motivated prosecutions that are taking place not just here in Boston but throughout the US. Ramsey Clark charges that that US Attorney Sullivan and the FBI have violated their constitutional duties and must be held accountable for their actions.
So, there you have it, brinkmanship at its plainest. I don't think he has the hand to deal. He thinks so.

Perhaps what attracted him was Clark's high profile, as high as Turner's ego. Perhaps instead it was Clark's comments that align with Turner's own to date. As the lawyer's Wikipedia entry reads:
On March 18, 2006, Clark attended the funeral of Slobodan Milošević. He declared: "History will prove Milošević was right. Charges are just that: charges. The trial did not have facts." He compared the trials of Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein by stating: "both trials are marred with injustice, both are flawed." He also condoned and justified Hussein and Milosevic's brutal regimes and their anti-American policies in which Clark described Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein as "both commanders who were courageous enough to fight more powerful countries."
Afternoon Follow-Up: Clark's charge into town (and charges) are well detailed at PolitickerMA. He not only called Turner's indictment racially and politically motivated, he tried to turn tables by calling for an investigation of U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan. Clark further called for "a moratorium on any further action until a new and independent prosecutor can come in here and review this whole matter." As a lawyer and former AG of the nation, he might know more about how criminal cases advance. Meh.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Non-Political Posts...This Way

In this festive season — nothing like dying plants and freezing rain to catalyze joy — those looking for my non-political rants can head to the sibling blog, Harrumph!

Too much politics here you say? Consider:

For those who claim I babble about nothing but politics, click to find other objects of my interest.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Idaho Ho Ho from Larry Craig


The most graceless of us are incapable of self-awareness and what to most folk would be obvious moral behavior. Let us take special note of soon-to-be ex-U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

This has been an annual celebration, including last year's Craig in the Box Keeps Popping Up. Come next month, after 28 years in one Congressional chamber or the other, he'll be back home, wrangling poodles or whatever he favors to pass the time.

As if to construct his own public stocks and keep himself displayed in his shame, he has set up a defense fund. The Fund for Justice (stop that snickering!) couldn't pay for half a week of legal fees yet. Then again, Craig will soon have lots of time to devote to this.

Actually, I suspect he'll continue his quixotic crusade to pretend he wasn't cruising in the Minneapolis airport john. I have been seeing in Idaho papers and blogs that people predict that his latest effort to withdraw his disorderly conduct plea in that case would end it. He got the Minnesota Court of Appeals to consider his risible claim that peering into a stall occupied by a man for two minutes, then tapping his foot to get his attention and repeatedly displaying his hand under the stall were protected free speech.

To heighten the amusement, let me note that the ACLU continues to support Craig. It has an agenda that apparently does not include increasing the seasonal merriment. They claim that the Minnesota law that the police used in their toilet-stall sting is too broad.

Sting operations can, if you pardon the expression, suck. Yet, the conduct law coupled with the Craig written guilty plea makes this truly an odd case for the rights organization to join.

December 9th, the court disagreed with Craig's claims. In an unpublished opinion (don't try to cite it for legal precedence, per another law, Sect. 480A.08, subd 3 [2006]), a three-judge panel of the court denied his request to withdraw his plea. That included a finding that the law was not too broad. People reasonably expected privacy on the toilet seat. "Offensive speech may be prohibited as intrusive when the 'captive' audience cannot avoid the speech," wrote the probably seated judges.

The rest of us with normal social graces would have taken our lumps on this one. Despite hoots from many, he continues to insist he is not gay and has never had sexual contact with males. He frequently mentions his beard wife Suzanne, with whom he has not bred, although he cites "our children." Whether he is homosexual and closeted or not is far less relevant than his getting caught wiggle-fingered in the airport pissoir, and then taking a month to consider the response before choosing guilty and paying the fine.

In the Idaho Statesman's Washington bureau, Erika Bolstad has been on the investigation, including the defense fund. She detailed the $4,645 he reported in his October filing (those reports are not online) for the fund he had registered on September 12th. Bolstad reported that his lawyer, Billy Martin, opened the fund in June. Craig has subsequently gotten scolded by the Senate ethics folk for using campaign funds for his legal expenses but then got permission to register and use the new fund.

His fund site is amusing on its own. It uses that spooky, skeletal portrait that is also on his Senate site. It is a single web page, with an email link but no phone, an address for mailing checks to, wording about how your donations are limited to $10,000 per year and other restraints, and a single button at the bottom to link to an online store-style credit card or PayPay system.

Apparently the $10,000 has not been a problem yet. There seem to be some chums kicking in at the housewarming-gift level. As Bolstad put it, "Most of the donations to Craig's expense fund range from $50 to $300." At the high end, one couple (Vicki and Franz White of Star) gave $1,000, another (Larry and Marianne Williams) $500 and one other (neighbors Joseph and Elizabeth David) $250. The others were tokens so far.

The consensus is that, come January, Craig will back off this absurd innocence routine. I bet otherwise.

Some fish when they retire. Idaho is one of the world's best places to do that. Others pretend to exercise on the golf course. I say that if Craig has been willing to show such graceless jive about his behavior and sexual orientation for so long, he won't be able to leave it alone.

He has a month, until a few days before he is out of office, to file an appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court on some picayune legal point. I'd put money on that failing, likely in the form of the high court refusing to waste its time on it at all, but I would be surprised if he didn't try.

As thoroughly and as long as he has made himself the object of ridicule and disdain, he has a real side. Agree with his positions or not, he has a long list of real-life bills that he has supported or introduced.

It is his broad delusional self that has brought him so low.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Genitalia-Based Religion by Huckabee

Relentless champion of marriage equality Jon Stewart did it again and did it right on his 12/9 segment with Mike Huckabee. The Daily Show host again out-reasoned and out-humanized the former Arkansas governor and likely repeat GOP Presidential candidate.

That's particularly important in that before a large audience, Stewart showed us how it should be done. We who favor and demand equality can get excited, emotional, angry challenging those who want to prevent or remove rights from homosexual couples. Instead, Stewart gently, but steadily, poured acid on the thin surface before him.

Huckabee is the dangerous sort of anti-gay/anti-equality spokesman. His sangfroid and joviality combine into a semblance of reason and compassion. He will speak the nastiest ideas while looking pleasant and speaking calmly, as though his rants were reasonable in their modulation.

Consider some of their exchange as below. This is the heart of it, but do click over to the whole segment, which is under eight minutes.

Huckabee: Even anatomically, the only way we can create the next generation is through a male-female relationship. For 5,000 of recorded human history, that's what marriage has meant.

Stewart: (He noted that Huckabee's time-line went to the Old Testament), where polygamy was the norm, not a heterosexual relationship between two couples (sic; I'm sure he meant people) who choose each other. Marriage has evolved greatly over those 5,000 years from a property arrangement, polygamy. We've redefined it constantly.

(He added that it was only when courts and laws intervened that interracial marriage was legalized here). It strikes me as very convenient to go back to the Bible and say, "Hey, man, we got to look at the way they define marriage."

Huckabee: If we change the definition, we really have to change it to accommodate all lifestyles. There's a difference between the equality of each individual and the equality of what we do, and the sameness of what we do. Marriage is under our law a privilege, not an absolute, divine right.

There's a big difference between a person being black and a person practicing a lifestyle and engaging in a marital relationship...

Stewart: I think the difference is what you believe gay people are and what I do...I'll tell you this, religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality...and talk about a lifestyle choice, that is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay.

I think it's an absolute travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to make their case that they deserve the same basic rights as someone else.

You keep talking about, geez, it would be redefining a word and it seems like semantics is cold comfort when it comes to humanity. And especially someone such as yourself who is, I think, an empathetic person.

Huckabee: Words do matter, definitions matter, and I think we have to be very thoughtful before we're going to under an entire social structure. Let's face it, the basic purpose of a marriage is not just to create the next generation but it's to train our replacements and it is in the context of 23 male and 23 female chromosomes coming together at the point of conception to create the next human life.

Stewart did not get into the common fallacies Huckabee iterated, except to point out that over the now clichéd and very false "5,000 years" society has altered the definition and limits of marriage constantly. He also noted that polygamy was the Biblical norm and that marriage was not a sacrament even as an option until 700 or so years ago.

Nor did he get into the silliness about procreation as the basis for sexual and emotional relationships. Precluding the unable and unwilling from marriage would eliminate most straight couples from consideration. In addition, Stewart didn't deal with adoption, medically aided pregnancies and such for either straight or gay couples.

However, in the end, he got to what I call genitalia-based theology. Stewart noted that Huckabee's talk was about sexuality, not theology. Bishops and bigots alike do the parts-fit-together jive to the entertainment and reinforcement of their believers. We who speak out for marriage equality see and hear such nonsense regularly.

Stewart's approach is a good one for us to take to heart and mind. The Huckabees are irrational about this. They use very simple-minded and illogical arguments in the main. Instead of flinging facts back into their emotion, we should keep our focus on key points such as:
  • Marriage is not immutable and has constantly evolved for millennia.
  • Religion is a lifestyle choice, while sexual orientation almost never is.
  • Denying gay couples marriage protects nothing and no one.
  • Marriage as an institution has been troubled for many decades. Encouraging loving couples to wed makes sense as well as being humane.
Don't be that mad guy. Be Jon.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hasty Bush Sing-Out from Lawyers

Just in the rare possibility that you don't pore over the comments on posts here, a singing attorney left a winner yesterday on the GOP fabulists one. I'll embed the vid below.

It's a good-riddance wish from Matt Farmer (yeah, for real) from the Blue State Cowboys in Chicago. They bill themselves as Chicago's Most Litigious Band. Listening seems to be free and there are additional goodies on their site.

In the country tradition of get-lost songs (extraordinarily well deserved in W's case), the lawyers sing:
CRAWL BACK TO CRAWFORD
(Matt Farmer)

VERSE
Well, for eight long years we’ve been payin’ your rent
But now your lease done run
And all our money’s been spent
So pack up your bags
And take a last look around
At how you drove a great nation straight into the ground

CHORUS
And don’t let the door
Hit you in the ass on the way out
Don’t bother with the goodbyes
Just make sure that you stay out
There ain’t no need to call
No need to write
We don’t even need you to turn out the light
Just crawl back to Crawford, brother
Promise that you’ll leave us alone

VERSE
Every step of the way, your story’s been the same
Just cruisin’ through the world
On your daddy’s name
You had the oilmen friends
You had the Skull and Bones
But it never would have happened if your name was Jones

REPEAT CHORUS

BRIDGE

Slam dunk, privatize, deregulate
Tax cuts, trickle down
The politics of hate
Flag pin, waterboard
Intelligent design
You were handed your throne by just five of the nine

REPEAT CHORUS





Huge thanks to Farmer and his chums for the 3:24 of giggles in a tough time...and the freedom to spread the joy.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

GOP Tricksters and Fabulists

Oo, ah. Watch closely as Bush reaches deeply into a balanced budget and extracts a huge recession! Look carefully as Condi and W. use prestidigitation to transform their lies and blunders into — Ta da! — faulty intelligence.

The Bush administration of magical fools have not even left the stage, but they're performing all the way out. They're strutting, not slinking, stage right.

In our glee to see these malicious incompetents off, we shouldn't lose sight of the less obvious forces at work. It is far too easy to note accurately that they, particularly Bush, have the fantasy that they can frame historical assessments of the past eight years. Somehow, Nixon the Evil did recast himself as a statesman, but he at least had foreign-policy achievements as a basis.

More insidious than trying to game history is the underlying lying, for the next Presidential election.

Already, our own smarmy elephant, Willard Mitt Romney, is raising money and doing well in polls (third behind Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee for 2012). He's hired staff and consultants too.

The next GOP go will depend on magic that John McCain lacked the skill to perform. Sure, the next candidates must separate themselves from the chaos and failures. Yet, to keep the core of the party's voters, they can't reject even the most disastrous Republican ploys. Those would include:
  • Tax cuts are sound financial policy that grow the economy
  • What's good for big companies is good for America
  • Borrowing and spending hundreds of billions and calling it defense is sustainable
  • Invading other countries will make us safe from terrorism
  • Redacting the Bill of Rights is the American way
  • Empowering the Executive Branch at the expense of the other two is good government
  • We can win every war and our economy will always return to an endless growth spiral if left alone
You really, really have to want to believe, beyond self-delusion, to accept that package.

Consider just a few examples of the 2012 harbingers. President G.W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would have us believe they were fooled into a trillion-dollar misadventure in Iraq by bad spy reports. Karl Rove, Bush's long-term chief adviser, holds that it was not bad ideas, merely a campaign-fund disparity that caused McCain's loss. On the economy, Bush's current ploy is that all the bad stuff that led to the terrible stuff took place before he was in office — not his fault or that of his party.

Shameful Links

Bad advice. Bush puts the onus on invading Iraq on the "intelligence failure" falsely claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the will to use them. Rice regrets reliance on "flawed intelligence" leading to the invasion of Iraq.

Economy? Not Mine. Bush has tap danced around the GOP Presidents' total financial failures. Then in his recent ABC interview with Charlie Gibson, he did the rich-kid finger-pointing avoidance thing:

GIBSON: Do you feel in any way responsible for what's happening?

BUSH: You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President.

I'm a little upset that we didn't get the reforms to Fannie and Freddie -- on Fannie and Freddie, because I think it would have helped a lot. And when people review the history of this administration, people will say that this administration tried hard to get a regulator. And there will be a lot of analysis of why that didn't happen. I suspect people will find a lot of it didn't happen for pure political reasons.

Some of us bloggers and MSM types note (with unconcealed glee) that his time-line would place the blame on his father's administration. We can also add that he avoids the judgment that without great help by external economic forces at home and abroad, Reaganomics and its variants destroy economies.

Trust Us. More obviously for the regrouping of the GOP, Rove's outrageous spin on the loss to Obama is a call to return with vengeance and hope. He would hold that they didn't lose because their policies and plans were bad, rather they were just outspent. Hence, donate more next time and we'll show those filthy liberals!

Tricksters and fabulists

Let us not conflate the honorable and politicians. The battle for 2010 Congress seats and the 2012 head office are underway. It certainly was long before November, when McCain's weakness and Bush's irredeemable failures were too obvious.

Again, Democrats, even in their centrist and quivering kneed totality, have to try to rescue the nation from the other party's economic failure. Moreover, unlike previous administrations in which the GOP at least did a better job with foreign affairs, we face disdain, distrust and hatred from much of the world as Bush's legacy.

Already to hear their advance tricksters and fabulists tell it:
  • The economic problems were inherited, not the GOP's fault, and caused by companies not by government
  • We can, in fact, have guns and butter, regardless of they way it looks now (and in the past 20-plus years).
  • The tragic loss of thousands of American and tens or hundreds of thousands of others', plus the towering debt, was justified.
  • Republican politicians and bureaucrats are wise and pure of heart. Incompetent spies fooled them into bad actions (which continued for seven years unabated).
  • Give rich people more money and tax cuts, and they'll do the right thing by the rest of us.
  • Give the GOP enough money, and they'll not only smack down the Dems, they'll make American perfect again.
One astonishing take is that some voters, many in fact, will buy into that bundle of crap. Republican magical thinking is certainly much easier to deal with than the adult bearing of responsibility and working to fix problems. Another astonishing take is that we'll hear such absurdities repeatedly for the next four years.

Meanwhile, Dems will be busy trying to keep America afloat and steer it into calm waters. Some group of them must act as a truth squad though. If we as a nation are not to repeat stupid, incompetent and delusional blunders of recent years, the bad and terrible ideas need constant exposure.

Republicans need more than new candidates. They need workable ideas instead of fantasies.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Barry Stole My Election Money!

Republicans in general and John McCain in particular can learn from Uncle Scar in Lion King. Let us pause to reflect, "Life's not fair, is it?"

Karl Rove revivified the certain GOP kvetch of the campaign. In the Wall Street Journal, he wails like a drunken college freshman feeling lonely. We'll be hearing more of this for the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. Life's not fair. Barack pushed me down and took my campaign funds!

Early on, McCain repeated what came to be the strangest complaints of the long, overly long campaign. He tediously whined that 1) Barack Obama was piling up more contributions than he, 2) voters and media types liked Obama better, and 3) Obama made the smarter/less honorable decision not to stick to public funding (á la the McCain/Feingold Act of 2002 — yes, the same McCain).

His org even ran TV ads likening Obama to Britney Spears and such flashy celebrities. McCain's not very hidden subtext was plain in the is-he-ready-to-lead tags. This whole area may have been McCain's worst misjudgment of his drive, at least until he named his idea of a ready-to-lead vice president.

For McCain's blunder, consider what he thought he was saying, "Everyone likes Obama better and gives him more money." How could he and his advisers not know that this means, "Everyone likes McCain less and wants Obama to be President"? McCain turned himself into Charlie Brown, with no help at all from the Democrats.

In Rove's dizzying spin, only Obama's money edge decided the election. It was "the Obama/DNC juggernaut" that "buried Mr. McCain on TV." Rove picked his stats carefully, as in by the state (Indiana) that McCain ceded and where Obama outspent him the most (nearly 7 to 1 by Rove's estimation). He also left off the many millions of hidden, soft Republican funds spent around McCain to elect the ticket. That would in fact severely undercut the money argument.

Regardless, the amusing aspect is that Obama likely did have a larger ad budget. He certainly organized and had organized for him a much bigger, better, wider and deeper volunteer organization. Put another way, this is yet more celebrity proof when more people wanted to give their time as well as money to elect that other guy.

For decades. Republicans have been the money party. The rich white folk in Congress and the Administration look out for the rich white folk in the nation. The most political money went to keep that huge and dirty machine working. The GOP had the money and won the Presidency and control of Congress the most.

It wouldn't be Rove without hypocrisy and irony, of course. He ends his WSJ piece with, "Mr. Obama's victory may show the enduring truth of the old Chicago Golden Rule: He who has the gold rules." This from the man who has a history of buying elections and undercutting democracy by any means is sweet.

Life was fair when Republicans get the most money. Life's not fair when they don't. I don't think I have the time or energy to feel sorry for McCain and Rove.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Marriage Equality Arc


Okay, for any of us who have had a breather, the game is back afoot. Marriage equality remains a key civil rights issue. Same-sex marriage will be fully realized, even in this very socially conservative nation.

There is no better moment than now to reflect again on the ideas of that old Transcendentalist, abolitionist, Underground Railroad leader, Unitarian reformer Rev. Theodore Parker. He engaged in many seminal struggles that would not find quick resolution, not in a ballot initiative nor in a court decision nor in some mystical and sudden enlightenment of the masses. Not even knowing that many of his causes would not resolve until after his death dissuaded him.

The frail minister died at 49 in 1860. He didn't even live to know the emancipation of the slaves here.

Parker is surely best known now for his inspirational long view. The well redacted version by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is what many of us know — The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

That carries the sentiment. Of course, as a liberal preacher, he could not have been quite as precise. His wordier original was, "Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mismanaged long."

That illustrated as well his humility. Yet in this thought, he clearly was and is right.

I keep the idea in mind and it helps me from being discouraged at setbacks like the passage of Prop. 8 last month.

We saw it with gay-rights in Maine and SSM in Massachusetts. In both states (among other examples), conflicts continued for several years before the public joined the legislatures and courts in saying in effect, "What's the matter here?" The rest of the industrialized world has largely gotten beyond creating second-class citizenship for groups. Only here do we continue to debate such civil rights or pretend that voting on them is a matter of democracy.

On both coasts, with each vote, even by plebiscite when it came to that, the arc has bent more toward justice. If the California courts don't overturn Prop. 8, there surely will be another ballot question and almost as certainly, it will finally favor equality as it did in Maine when it came the third time.

We can look at those who would deny or strip rights from fellow citizens as misguided, nasty or cruel. Doing so may make us feel superior and wiser, but it does nothing to deliver those rights.

Instead, Parker's view is the clearest one. As he did his entire short life, we must work toward justice, knowing that we are helping our universe bend further where it is going.

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