Saturday, July 02, 2005

Independence Day Thoughts (letter from a red state)

Living in California, being a Democrat is a natural condition and one that doesn't embroil you, particularly, in a lot of heated political debate other than the circumstance of Dianne Feinstein's husband being a war profiteer and questioning why in Christ's name this woman even calls herself a Democrat. You hear that a lot among California liberals.

Republicans are so rare in San Francisco that when a real estate office on 24th and Noe started displaying Bush propaganda in their front window, passers-by would roll their eyes or laugh at the freaks from outer space. The little cowboy boots in their window were funny, aren't these zany people just precious? Arent we tolerant for allowing this trash to live amongst us without breaking their FUCKING WINDOW AND BURNING THE JOINT TO THE GROUND?

Ah, for the days when Republicans were as sparse as Tom DeLay's ethics. Since I moved to one of the reddest of the red states two years ago, I find myself now in the position of freak from outer space and boy, at times it ain't pretty. But with challenge often comes reward, if you're not adverse to looking for such diamonds in the shit mine.

Here, being a Democrat involves more than throwing cash to the DNC and casting your futile ballot for John Kerry. It involves being forced to examine and re-examine your political beliefs, and to be prepared to defend them. It means being able to state, succinctly and without hysteria, why you oppose George Bush, his policies, and his war. If you can do so, people will listen - and think.

What I've gained most from being here is that I no longer take being a Democrat for granted. It's a precious legacy that I love and nurture. I have to, to survive being surrounded by the Party of Christ and their followers. And the small victories mean something here, even if it's having steadily increasing numbers of people ask you about your anti-war button while you're out running errands and finding that these former war supporters now agree with you. You can't see the tide turning in Bush's America from the coasts, and you can't contribute much to the effort from behind a blue-state fortress.

Living here has radicalized me far more than living in San Francisco ever did. Here I see first-hand how the vicious and decidedly un-Christian policies of our Republican ubermeisters steal from the poor to give tax cuts to the rich. I've seen how the religious right infiltrates our institutions, forcing sham debates on evolution and pushing anti-gay initiatives using hateful invective on our citizens. It's one thing to chuckle over Republican outrages from a coffeehouse on Market Street, and quite another to live under their terrible governance and Holy Roller-style gassy condemnation.

This Indepedendence Day represents a turning point in our country, as we sit on the brink of a true one-party dictatorship with the final piece of the Republican puzzle falling into place as they take over the Supreme Court, leaving them with total control of all three branches of government. If you value your independence to be a Democrat or a Green or a Socialist or even nothing at all get involved. Contact your senators, regardless of their party, and demand a centrist Supreme Court. Let them know that the voters will hold them accountable if they allow the extremist wing of the Republican party to take over what should be an impartial judiciary - and what's more, they'll pay at the polls if they support a nuclear option for this nominee.

If we don't act now, we'll all be living under red state rules - and I can guarantee, from first hand experience, this isn't something you'd find attractive. Now go celebrate your independence and make your voices heard.

Friday, July 01, 2005

It's Fuck You Friday

To the people who didn't vote in the presidential election last year: fuck you.

The announcement today of Justice O'Connors retirement is a disaster, a fucking disaster. Bush will have not one but two Supreme Court nominations to make, and O'Connor has long been the swing vote on the court that has protected Roe v. Wade and has acted as a buffer to the extremism of the hard right conservative justices.

You lazy fucking assholes who didn't bother to vote, get ready for a Supreme Court filled with Scalia-type crackpots who will rule against your rights. Look for bible-thumping "morality" to become the law of the land. Enjoy your new Southern Baptist overlords, because they'll have a tremendous influence in your lives and how you're allowed to live them.

This is a fight that we can't win. The Republicans will do what they always do - change the rules to suit their needs - and Frist will push the nuclear button for this nomination. We're fucked.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Prime Time Bigotry

Today's New York Times reports that ABC has dropped from its schedule a racist, repulsive bit of summer programming in which white Christian families either accept or reject minorities wishing to live in their neighborhood.

Under pressure from civil rights groups, ABC Television yesterday canceled plans to broadcast a reality show that let the white suburban families living on a Texas cul-de-sac decide which of seven families - including one black, one Asian, one Hispanic and one gay couple - would move into their community.

The show, "Welcome to the Neighborhood," was to be a summer replacement for the top-rated "Desperate Housewives," which is set on a fictional cul-de-sac, Wisteria Lane, where no one can keep her nose out of anyone else's business.

The one-hour reality show, developed by MGM and the producers behind such shows as "Extreme Makeover" and "The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliot," was to have begun a six-episode run on July 10 at 9 p.m.

...In the shows - all of them have been completed - seven diverse families seek votes from three white families in a development called Circle C Ranch, outside Austin. The white families, through a series of interviews, competitions and social interactions, award a 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom home to the winner - a neighbor, the families say, who will fit in with the community's mostly Christian and Republican values.

Critics of "Welcome to the Neighborhood," which ABC had promoted heavily, said it violated the letter and certainly the spirit of fair housing laws by allowing factors like religion to be a consideration in awarding the house

...In the first two episodes, some members of the voting families are seen making disparaging remarks about the gay family (two white men with a black child), questioning whether a Korean family was foreign-born and rejecting a white family who practiced Wicca, a pagan religion. One family was to be rejected each week until the last remaining family won the house.

Are we surprised that a network would actually think that such racist trash would have a wide appeal in this country? After all, it reinforces our current White Man's Burden Crusade in Iraq by empowering white Christians to deem who is "acceptable" and who is to be rejected.

Despite the obvious appeal of this show to our corporate warlords, making minorities beg whites for the dubious privilege of living in their suburban neighborhoods is revolting. It also give a free pass to the bigotry of the Christian right by legitimizing their many hatreds. Hey, if they get to star in an ABC series, gay bashing might just be the ticket out of the trailer park, eh? What's next, the Fred Phelps comedy hour?

This repulsive bit of prime time Plantation Massah programming should never have received consideration from the executives at ABC, much less be filmed and ready in the can for the summer schedule.

This media frenzy to push the Christian Right on the rest of the country is sickening to the core. MSNBC's Hardball this week has been on the "Hardball Church Tour", a frightening trip through extremist America which they present as the norm. ABC News last week broadcast the entire newscast from a Billy Graham revival. The History Channel now turns over huge chunks of their programming to the history of Christianity. Why this sudden influx of religion in network and cable broadcasting? The corporate media knows that the key to their Republican puppets staying in power lies in the Christian Right, so they pander to their hatreds and inflate their numbers hoping to gain more adherents for "the base".

Memo to MSNBC: If I wanted to take a "church tour", I'd fucking GO to one, and not sit on my ass and flip on MSNBC!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Road to Hell

I had made a promise to myself not to watch the PR stunt masquerading as a "major address" last evening. Seeing the little coward surrounding himself with troops in another feeble attempt at transference - troops brave, Bush brave - was beyond my limited endurance. I knew the mixture of lies and chimp-like grimaces and leers from this troglodyte would affect me like food poisoning: nausea, a swooning headache, elevated blood pressure. Besides, the Orioles were in a close game with the Yankees and the outcome of that game was far less predictable than the one Bush would play (the Orioles won in the 10th inning).

For some odd reason, despite every fiber of my being telling me not to do it, I flipped to CBS between innings and watched the beginning of the end of the miserable Bush presidency. If the public doesn't support the current policy, a stubborn adherence to it isn't going to fly - but that's exactly what Bush did.

I tried to overlook the broad range of monkey-like expressions, but I was as usual appalled by his strange sociopathic leering grins at completely inappropriate moments in the text, which always makes me think that he has no emotional connection whatsoever to the words he's been given to say. This half-grin, half-sneer generally makes an appearance when he speaks of death and mayhem, so perhaps he does indeed have an emotional connection to the text and his reaction is reflective of some kind of snuff kink. Whatever.

The speech, as expected, was little more than a restating of the Rumsfeld-Cheney policies that have led us to this disaster, coupled with a large dose of the standard lies and more 9/11 grave dancing. The repeated 9/11 references - he cited the attacks five times in a thirty minute speech - instantly made clear why Rove told his Hitler-like Big Lie last week about the liberal response to September 11th: in a desperate "last throes" attempt to rally public support, the administration will again confuse and mislead the public, tie 9/11 and Iraq together in one neat package, and anyone foolish enough to criticize their failed adventure in Iraq will be labeled "soft" on the September 11th terrorists. Rove set the table, and Bush served the shit to the American people. The mendacity is breathtaking.

His latest justification in the revolving door of reasons for this war - "freedom", a word that he used 21 times in the speech - pales next to the slaughter of Iraqi civilians, to our leveling of Fallujah, and to the perverse policies that brought us the national humiliation of Abu Gharib. God forbid Bush brings us this form of "freedom". I wondered what the typical Saudi citizen, one living under the brutality of the Saudi dictatorship that Bush supports, thought about his pathetic bleating about freedom and democracy.

Given that there was not a single new policy in this drivel, one wonders why he put the taxpayers again through enormous expense by taking this crap on the road. Presidents who don't suffer from megalomania have, in the past, delivered an address of this nature from the Oval Office. This isn't good enough for our deranged president, who's addicted to spending our tax dollars for his own self-aggrandizing needs. No, he jets off to North Carolina on his 747, disrupts all of Fayetteville, spends a small fortune on the security necessary for this jaunt so he can have a feel-good moment with an audience guaranteed not to heckle him, since they're under orders not to do so. It's all theatrics, all spin, all lies to try to sell a policy that the American public is no longer buying, tied up in simpering tones that to not support his vicious war policies is to give a free pass to the 9/11 terrorists.

I suppose we should be grateful that he didn't play military dress-up last night and we were spared the stomach-churning atrocity of his mama's-boy Army jacket with "George W. Bush Commander in Chief" embroidered in italics over the breast pocket. Then again, it can be an amusing distraction to watch him talk tough while looking so fey in that fucking jacket, and a distraction last night was sorely needed.

It's unsettling to have the country in the hands of a madman. I should have stayed with the Orioles game.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

California National Guard Spying on Mothers of Dead Soldiers

I thought we were at war with "terrorists", and not with parents who have lost children in Iraq?

A stomach-churning story today from the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO - Three decades after aggressive military spying on Americans created a national furor, California's National Guard has quietly set up a special intelligence unit that has been given ''broad authority'' to monitor, analyze and distribute information on potential terrorist threats, the Mercury News has learned.

Known as the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program, the project is part of an expanding nationwide effort to better integrate military intelligence into global anti-terrorism initiatives.

Although Guard officials said the new unit would not collect information on American citizens, top National Guard officials have already been involved in tracking at least one recent Mother's Day anti-war rally organized by families of slain American soldiers, according to e-mails obtained by the Mercury News.

...Creation of California's intelligence unit is already raising concerns for civil libertarians who point to a string of abuses in the 1960s and 1970s when the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans, infiltrated church youth groups, posed as reporters to interview activists, monitored peaceful protests and even attended an elementary school Halloween party in search of a ''dissident.''

...Last month, a group of anti-war activists, including the parents of American soldiers killed in Iraq, held a small Mother's Day rally at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial near the California Capitol to call for the return of all National Guard troops by Labor Day.

Three days before the rally, as a courtesy to the military, an aide in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's press office alerted the Guard to the event, according to e-mails obtained by the Mercury News.

...But he said the military would be ''negligent'' in not tracking such anti-war rallies in the event that they disintegrate into a riot that could prompt the governor to call out troops.

''It's nothing subversive,'' said Zezotarksi. ''Because who knows who could infiltrate that type of group and try to stir something up? After all, we live in the age of terrorism, so who knows?''

Isn't that breezy? Hey, we're in an endless age of terrorism, so "who knows?" what we'll find with our spying. The idea that a group of 36 people would turn into a "riot" that would require quelling by the Guard is beyond ridiculous. The notion that mothers of dead soldiers - and having a child killed in Iraq is a prerequisite for joining their group - would allow without question some terrorist type to infiltrate their group and do all kinds of Dirty Deeds is just fucking bullshit, an utter lie to allow them to harass this group.

The only individuals we need to worry about "infiltrating" anti-war groups are FBI thugs - a common tactic used by the FBI during the Vietnam war. So will the California National Guard now spy on FBI infiltrators?

Why is our government so scared of Cindy Sheehan, a mother from Vacaville whose son was killed in Iraq? Is it because she is openly and courageously speaking out against the lies that preceded this war?

Californians should rise up against this misuse of their National Guard. Perhaps they should contact the governor...oh, wait.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wars on Many Fronts

Republicans are continuing the War on the Poor they declared twenty five years ago upon the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, was was humped to electoral victory on the backs of his mythical "welfare queens" by, contrarily, a large block of poor white voters who believe that poverty is only an unacceptable condition for blacks.

Aside from the curious dynamics of the white underclass in this country, one wonders why self-satisfied Republican millionaires spend so much time planning strategies that do so much damage to the least advantaged in our society. I can only conclude that their hostility stems from the consumer society they've created, with its focus on targeted demographics, a debased culture, marketing surveys, saturation advertising and other such methods to convince us that we indeed must have their various knick-knacks and gee-gaws and juicers that sit unused in our kitchens for decades. If we don't buy their crap, our value to our Republican overlords plummets. And that's the key to understanding the latest War on the Poor launched by the Bush administration: the producers feel free to eliminate those who don't consume in our society, and elimination is, indeed, the correct word.

The Washington Post reports the latest attempt to spray Raid on the poor:

PHILADELPHIA -- A Bush administration proposal to eliminate many of the federal rules requiring public housing authorities to serve extremely low-income people has generated widespread concern among housing advocates who say the change could prove ruinous for the nation's poorest families.

The plan, which is pending in Congress, would allow local housing authorities to charge higher rents, provide lower subsidies, and limit the amount of time tenants can remain in federally subsidized housing to as little as five years. Taken together, the changes would amount to one of the most dramatic policy shifts in the 68-year history of public housing.

Bush administration officials say the proposal suits the president's vision of promoting self-sufficiency and encouraging home ownership. But advocates and local housing officials worry that the changes will result in a reduction in an already inadequate supply of housing affordable to people mired in deep poverty.

Encourage home ownership, eh? As you continue to read the story, you discover just who George Bush expects to go out and purchase a home in today's inflated market:

Perhaps the toughest obstacle officials here confront is the stubborn pervasiveness of deep poverty. Nearly half of the families receiving public housing aid in Philadelphia have incomes under $8,000 a year. And only a fifth reported annual incomes above $20,000, according to the authority

So what happens when these families earning under eight grand a year are turned down for a mortgage? We all know the answer:

''The changes would harm households with the most severe affordable-housing needs," said Douglas Rice, director of housing and community development for Catholic Charities USA. ''The shortage of affordable housing is one of the primary causes of homelessness, and extremely low-income households are most at risk of becoming homeless."

Once this severely impoverished population is homeless, the real damage begins. Most studies estimate that the death rate for homeless men is, depending on the city, anywhere from three to six times the death rate for the general population. The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently reported the results of a study which concluded that homeless women in Toronto between the ages of 18-44 have a mortality rate ten times that of women of the same age in the general population.

One might argue that the funding for subsidized housing is being drained, as so many services in this country are, by the needless flow of money going to Halliburton and other war profiteers. The guns instead of butter argument would of course be correct. But what this proposal really represents is a genocidal policy that the Republicans - and Democrats such as Bill Clinton - have been advocating for years, to wit: they push non-consumers to consume (welfare reform), and if that doesn't work, they simply leave them on the streets to die.

And this is what they consider "compassion".

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Activist Update

The Louisiana Activist Network - the same creative folks who organized the Jazz Funeral for Democracy in New Orleans - has put together a Peace Train to take activists from throughout the South to Washington for the September 24th anti-war demo. One-way tickets on Amtrak from NO to DC are a little over a hundred bucks.

Here's the schedule -

Thursday, September 22, 2005

7:20 AM New Orleans, LA

8:16 AM Slidell, LA

8:38 AM Picayune, MS

9:43 AM Hattiesburg, MS

10:17 AM Laurel, MS

11:17 AM Meridian, MS

12:51 PM Tuscaloosa, AL

2:31 PM Birmingham, AL

4:04 PM Anniston, AL

7:40 PM Atlanta, GA

9:03 PM Gainsville, GA

9:44 PM Toccoa, GA

10:20 PM Clemson, SC

10:57 PM Greenville, SC

11:43 PM Spartanburg, SC

Friday, September 23, 2005

12:43 AM Gastonia, NC

1:25 AM Charlotte, NC

2:36 AM Salisbury, NC

3:17 AM High Point, NC

3:35 AM Winston-Salem, NC

3:42 AM Greensboro, NC

4:44 AM Danville, VA

5:54 AM Lynchberg, VA

7:07 AM Charlottesville, VA

7:59 AM Culpeper, VA

8:33 AM Manassas, VA

9:27 AM Alexandria, VA

9:50 AM Washington, DC

To join the Peace Train, you can hook up with LAN here.