Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Unending Prayers For Katrina's Victims

I've waited, and waited, and waited for better news to crop up in regards to Hurricane Katrina. I never wanted to throw in my hat to pessimism despite my tendency in that direction regarding so many other things. Indeed, it is a very hard thing to give up on hope when it comes to searching for the good in a situation but that is exactly what is happening. I no longer see any way that a good outcome can be had in wake of Katrina. It is clear now, as even President Bush and the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have admitted, that the worst has happened. Katrina was the worst hurricane in recent history and, possibly, the history of the nation in general. We no longer sit in fear of the worst coming to pass. We now sit and wonder how to overcome the worst. What can we do? What should we do?
Help The Victims
The first and most important thing we can do is, obviously, to give money to charities that are helping the victims in Katrina's wake. I have included a link to a website containing links to various charities and agencies that are involved in helping victims. Make this a priority. It isn't about making a donation to feel you did your part and it isn't about earning brownie points for a tax donation. It's not even about earning brownie points with God. To tell you the truth, it's not even about duty. We should help in any way we can out of simple love of our fellow man above and beyond any other reason. Irregardless to religion, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation or anything else, we should always help one another for that is the American way and it is God's way. Most important of all, it is the right way. Making a donation is the most humble thing we can do to help and it is the first thing we should do.
After offering whatever financial and material aid we can, the most important thing we can do is offer our prayers for the victims and for a safer future for all Americans. Katrina is evidence that we are grossly under prepared for dealing with natural disasters, much less other crisis that arise to threaten us. We should pray for the well-being of our fellow Americans and accept without argument that some things will be more expensive after this including building supplies, seafood and some agricultural products. Above and beyond these things, we should hold tight to our friends and family because we never know what life has in store for us. Do not let the suffering of Katrina's victims be in vain. There are those who will never again be able to hug and hold their husbands, their wives, their brothers, their sisters, their sons or their daughters. Let this be a wakeup call for those of us who are too busy to slow down and enjoy life. In this way, at least, some good can come from this tragedy. Now, all that can be said has been said. All that can be done needs to be done. I offer my prayers and confidence that the Americans of the gulf coast will not give up. They will rise again from their ruin. They won't go down, not from this. God bless!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Big Week For Right-Wing Censorship

Well folks, classes have begun and I find myself being short on time. This keeps me out of the blogosphere more than I like. On the bright side, I still have time to keep up on current events. This means two things. First, it means I will probably only blog on Saturdays from now on. Second, it means that I have a fruit-basket plethora of things to write about today. Let's get started, shall we?
Pat Robertson Controversy
A recent statement by the rightmost of right-wing polito-Christians, Pat Robertson, is sending shockwaves across America and the religious right in particular. For those of you who do not yet know, he suggested this week that the United States assassinate Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez. I wonder what version of the Bible he reads? One thing's for sure: Mine doesn't say anything about promoting assassination.
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," he said. "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator."
To all of those who haven't yet noticed, Robertson isn't a true Christian and hasn't been for a long time. He's a charlatan who has pulled the Jesus cap over the eyes of many Americans. Fortunately, with this statement he has given the fooled and tricked a chance to take their caps off. His willingness to promote murder documents his very un-Christian philosophy in the same way as Bush Jr's dishonesty about the Iraq invasion and Trent Lott's statements in favor of racism proved their charlatan status as Christians. It's interesting to note, however, that many among the tricked and the conned have decided that their caps are staying on no matter what. I mean, they did it for Dubya so what's wrong with doing it for Pat?
It's a sad fact but the most interesting thing to come out of Robertson's controversy has been an abysmal silence from conservatives. Sure, a few conservative blogs have made a point to disagree with Robertson's statement, but the fact is that by-and-large they are not condemning Robertson for this evil suggestion though they are always jumping up and down and foaming at the mouth when someone like Senator Durbin (D-IL) makes a similar sort of statement. Even the right-wing media is failing to truly condemn Robertson. Why the double standards?
Fox News Ruins A Family's Livelihood
Speaking of the right-wing media, did you ever wonder what it would be like for everyone to think you were guilty of a crime you didn't commit? A Fox News contributor decided to give one California family the opportunity to experience just that when he broadcast a picture of their house along with the address of a man thought to be linked to terrorists.
To the reality-based community, there is one obvious problem here: the house and the address don't match. However, the right-wingers in California, like those elsewhere, don't seem to care about pesky things like truth and facts. They figured that anything the conservative media said must be true. It might seem natural, then, that they have embarked on a crusade to ruin the lives of those who live at the house without even verifying that it is truly the residence of a terrorist. These vigilantes now drive past the house day and night, yelling "terrorist" and vandalizing as they go. Perhaps Fox News should give away cars as prizes instead of ruined lives?
Just as in the Robertson situation, American conservatives seem unconcerned that their side of the spectrum has perpetrated something terrible. In fact, there can be no doubt that the vandals now terrorizing an innocent family in California are staunch Bush supporters. For one thing, it's widely thought that most people who can't spell voted for Bush last year. Well, the vandals who spray-painted the house proved their inability to spell. Guys, it's terrorist, not "terrist". The other reason there can be no doubt that the vandals are Bush supporters is the fact that they believed what they were told without questioning that it was true. That is a telltale sign of being a Bush fanatic. Need I say more?
My Travel-Writing Guru Attacks Censorship
I was very happy when I saw that my travel-writing guru, Rick Steves, had written an editorial in USA Today about how silly censorship is getting in America. It's not only silly, though, it's out of control.
In his editorial, Steves described the censorship bug from the travel industry point-of- view. He wrote that censorship has become so invasive that in some parts of the country, travel shows featuring nude statues now come with the disclaimer, "For mature audiences only." He pointed out that our conservative government has even tried to scare stations into submission by raising fines "from $27,500 to a maximum of $500,000 per incident." In closing, he argues that censorship is so out of control that it's hard to be sure how far it will go. "Can I film the Three Graces only from the waist up? And, if I do, is that indecency fine of $500,000 per painting ... or per nipple?," he wrote. Hard to say Rick, hard to say.
Ok, at this point it's only fair to take a quick look at the religious right's arguments in favor of censorship. Generally, they claim that boobs, penises and pubic hair should be hidden from view in order to protect children. They also argue that if we don't hide these things from children, we will become like Europe. Reality, of course, suggests that these arguments have no substance.
First of all, trying to hide these things from children is silly and pretending that sex doesn't exist until they are older is also just plain silly. It's a proven fact that when parents hide information, kids tend to get that information from unsavory sources. That makes matters worse, not better.
As to Europe, European countries have far lower rates of rape and teen pregnancy than the United States. Nude beaches, nude TV shows and admittance by parents that sex exists before 18 obviously haven't damaged European youth. This argument is plain bologna.
In closing, I want to head off a few common counterattacks that advocates of censorship have. First of all, I'm not promoting hardcore porn but I am promoting personal responsibility. It's impossible to remove temptation from every day life and besides, hiding temptations from kids makes the desire for them stronger. That goes for sex just as much as anything else. To combat teen pregnancy and rape, parents should educate their kids instead of "sheltering" them from reality. They should teach them to be careful and to be responsible instead of trying to coerce them into it by hiding reality from them. This isn't a liberal plot to pervert America. It's not about doing what the Europeans are doing. It is about helping kids do the right things by teaching them not to do the wrong ones. Censorship as it is being touted today is merely a method of getting out of this very personal responsibility. It doesn't help anything. It creates more problems and makes existing ones worse.
Recent Poll Results: Should Companies Be Required To Offer Respectable Benefits And Pay To Employees?
Yes (Democrat) 34.6%
Yes (Republican) 3.9%
Yes (Other) 34.6%
No (Democrat) 3.9%
No (Republican) 11.5%
No (Other) 11.5%
Total: Yes 73.1% No 26.9%

Saturday, August 20, 2005

On Cindy Sheehan's Plight And My MIA Status

Believe it or not, I'm back in the blogosphere. I would like to apologize to my friends and readers for going MIA last week. It was a busy week. Many unexpected things happened that kept me from even turning on the computer for the most part. First of all, the electric window (glares) on the passenger-side door of my car went out, leading to a harrowing three day quest to fix it without going broke. Then, I switched my cell phone service to Cingular and this, for various reasons, took up nearly an entire day with sitting on the phone talking to Customer Service. Besides these events, I had a lot of errands to run and that also kept me busy. I apologize and truly wish that things had been otherwise. I had meant to post about Cindy Sheehan last Tuesday but I am only just now able to do so. My information comes from a friend of Sheehan's who has filled me on information that the so-called "liberal media" has been neglecting to publish. My findings suggest that the media isn't liberal and that the right-wing spinners don't even know what they are talking about.
Cindy Sheehan's Plight
At my request, Sheehan's friend, a journalist by the name of Stacy Morgan Taylor, answered a few questions about why Sheehan is upset. She explained that Sheehan's opinions of Bush changed because of the way he treated her when she met with him. In fact, the examples she gave me would be unbelievable with any other recent President but because of Bush's widely known crudeness in public and love of publicity stunts, I have little doubt these accusations are true. Thus, without further adieu, let's examine Bush's inappropriate behavior towards Sheehan.
Sheehan's 5-10 Minutes With Bush
Taylor told me that about 9 weeks after Sheehan's son (Casey) was killed in Iraq, she and about a dozen other families were selected to meet with President Bush. It was supposed to be an opportunity for Bush to mourn with them in their loss and thank the fallen for their sacrifice. In reality, it turned out to be yet another publicity stunt on Bush's part. For one thing, each family was only allotted 5-10 minutes to meet with Bush. That, in and of itself, was disrespectful. What really hurt Sheehan, though, were the things Bush did when he got around to meeting with her. Many of the things he did were alarming and very inappropriate for a mourning session.
First of all, he repeatedly referred to Cindy as "mom" despite the obvious upset this caused her. Even after she became angered and said, "I am not your mom", he still continued to refer to her in that way.
Second, during the meeting with Sheehan, and indeed those with other families, he didn't seem to know the names of the fallen. He repeatedly referred to Casey as "the loved one" instead of by his name.
Third, throughout the entire meeting, Bush stayed in an upbeat and casual manner, almost as if he were going to a party. Considering that he was basically at a funeral, this just not proper etiquette.
Fourth, every time Sheehan tried to tell Bush about Casey's personality and life, Bush changed the subject. In fact, Bush wouldn't even look at pictures of Casey that Sheehan had brought to show him.
As it turns out, though the right-wing spin machine and the so-called "liberal media" don't seem to know or want the public to know, Bush treated Sheehan as a publicity tool, nothing more. He was rude and disrespectful towards her and Casey, not even having the kindness or decency to refer to Casey by his name instead of by rhetorical references. Why wouldn't he look at pictures of Casey or talk about him with Sheehan? In the end, the truth is that Bush used Sheehan and she didn't appreciate it. After the meeting, Sheehan was grateful that the President had met with her at all but as time passed, she came back to the stark reality that he had used her and dishonored her son's memory. What Americans among us wouldn't be angry in her shoes?
My Two Cents
I take issue with two groups in this matter.
First, as in most other cases, the right-wing pundits are simply doing their master's bidding by fanatically protecting Bush. Notice how this duty is soo important to some of them that they have taken time off work to go down to Bush's ranch and protest against Sheehan? They are so fanatically loyal to the guy I refer to more and more as the new Furher that they felt they had to take time out of their lives to stand out in the heat and protest Sheehan's very legitimate anger and grief? These people are monsters.
Second, I take issue with is the so-called "liberal media", which is either rightist in reality or simply too scared of the NeoCons to report the facts any more. Notice how they have bashed Sheehan continuously? I'm beginning to wonder if any of these so-called "news sources" have even bothered to ask Sheehan what happened during her meeting with Bush. Talk about a one-sided story.
In closing, irregardless to what the brainwashed right-wingers think and in spite of the half-story the so-called "liberal media" is allowing the public to have, Sheehan is a grieving mother who has lost her son to war and as such, is entitled to think whatever she likes. Her anger towards Bush is easily justified and almost as easily, so is her anger towards the war. Irregardless to WMD's in Iraq 10 years ago, irregardless to those Clinton once thought were there but later decided were not, Bush knew his evidence in 2003 was weak and trumped it up. Because of that, Sheehan, like the rest of the nation, was taken for a ride and is not happy about it. While the war was necessary, Bush's rudeness and dishonesty were not. In the end, I feel sorry for those who condemn Sheehan. We should pray for her and her son but also for the brainwashed fanatics who support Bush. Like Casey, they are casualties of war. Unlike Casey, who gave his life for his country, they have given up their free will to protect the evil, corrupt creature that soils the White House these days. I do not know what else to say so I will leave it at that.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Strengthen America, Not The DNC And RNC

My Tuesday post laid out 7 proposals to change the way we elect Congressional Representatives, Senators and the President of the United States. As expected, they met with a variety of responses. The proposals to change the Presidential election process met with both wide support and mild resistance, particularly among conservatives, but surprisingly few readers were opposed to my proposals to change the House and Senate election processes. The consensus on those seemed to be mostly one of "How Do We Do It?" rather than one of doubt or disagreement. Today, in an effort to further flesh out my proposals, I am going to respond to the concerns of some regarding changing the Presidential election process and then I'm going to put forward my suggestions on how to get Congress' attention and make them take these proposals seriously. First, we'll start by addressing concerns about the proposals that would affect Presidential campaigns.
The Presidential Election Process
Reasons To Keep/Sack The Electoral College
The Electoral College was created for many reasons, as a link provided by Mark, my friend at Liberty Just In Case, shows. According to the author, the Electoral College is important because it guarantees a certain amount of clout to the minority and contributes to political stability by maintaining a two-party system. These are the main points the document makes for the EC and are the sentiments the opponents of my proposal to abolish the EC have voiced. Fair enough. Advocates of abolishing the EC argue that it doesn't accurately represent the will of the nation, that it puts us at risk of electing minority presidents (such as George W. Bush in 2000) and that it puts us at risk of Electors not voting for the candidate a state chooses. These are all valid arguments with the exception of the argument that a two-party system represents stability, which is simply rubbish. Anyone who looks past their political bias can see that the current system is riddled with failures. In any case, now that we've looked at the main pros and cons of the EC, let's look at why I supported the move to abolish it.
Why I Changed My Mind
In my Tuesday post, I argued that the EC should be abolished in favor of a simple popular vote, by which a Presidential candidate would have to garnish a simply majority of votes to win. I felt, and still do, that the EC is too complicated and puts us at risk of electing Presidents in a non-Democratic way. However, I did some research of my own and found that abolishing the EC would take voting power away from 14 states and give voting power to 4 other states. While most of the losses were minor, the gains were substantial and because they benefited only the biggest states, I felt they were unacceptable. Because of this, I have decided that we should keep the EC but that we should add a series of clauses to the Constitution to protect the nation from ever again having a non-Democratically elected President. Here are my proposals to change the EC as well as my previous proposal to ensure that Independent and Third-Party candidates are not unfairly prevented from being on the election ballots:
* Add a clause to the Constitution stating that if a Presidential candidate wins the Electoral College vote but not the popular vote, the candidate with the most popular votes will be awarded the Presidency. NOTE: Because almost every candidate who has ever won the Electoral College has also won the popular vote, this will protect against minority Presidents while still protecting the voting power of the smaller states.
* Add a clause that imprisons, for the period of 2 years, any Elector who does not vote the way the majority of constituents in his or her state voted. This will eliminate virtually all risk of Elector foul play. NOTE: Fines would not have the same effectiveness because they can be easily compensated for while imprisonment cannot.
* Any candidate who can garnish 25,000 supporters’ signatures has the right to be on the Presidential ballot in every state.
Can We Make These Proposals A Reality?
I believe very staunchly that we can make these proposals a reality. Though it will not be easy, it will happen if we stand together. The biggest obstacle we face is the Democratic/Republican establishment. Though both parties tend to be at one another's throats most of the time, they will unite en masse against any movement they see as a threat to their system of sharing power. For this reason, simply writing our Congressmen and Senators will not suffice to get their attention. Therefore, I believe the best way to get Washington's attention is to start from the ground up. We should work within each state to ensure that every Representative and every Senator knows that we are tired of having our votes hijacked. Here are my proposals for getting Washington's attention:
* Gather the signatures of 10,000 supporters in every Congressional district in every state and send our proposals along with the signatures to each Representative, irregardless to his or her political affiliation.
* Gather the signatures of 30,000 supporters in every state and send them along with our proposals to both Senators in each and every state.
* Send a copy of every signature to the White House so the President, irregardless of his or her political affiliation, will know that any veto of our proposals in legislation will result in an automatic and massive loss of support.
It's time for Americans to stand up, put aside political ideology and put an end to the corruption inherent in our government. The two-party system has failed to protect our Democracy. Instead, it has allowed political extremists to hijack our votes, take absolute control of our government and sell our nation to special interests. I have the utmost optimism in this nation and its future but optimism alone will not protect us from the greedy, corrupt and power hungry. Only hard work will do that. Is America a Republic or is it a two-party dictatorship? It's up to us to decide.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Seven Ways To Strengthen Our Democracy

On Balance of Power, a political think-tank blog I co-sponsor, I recently made proposals on how we can strengthen the foundations of American Democracy while maintaining our Republic. Naturally, responses were mixed. Some felt my proposals were good, some felt they were bad and others felt they were outright unnecessary. In fact, the great variety of responses I received has prompted me to flesh out in a bit more detail what exactly my proposals are. Before we go any further, however, I want to make it clear that the inspiration for my proposals are none other than the states themselves. This is because in the states, it is neither impossible nor indeed uncommon for independents and even third-party candidates to run for office successfully. Also, state governments are elected solely by the popular votes of their bread-and-butter citizens. Why should the national government be any different? That's the purpose of my proposals so let's dig in.
The US House Election Process
The first and biggest alteration I propose is in the way members are elected to the US House of Representatives. The current system has been hijacked by the Democratic and Republican parties to all but guarantee that third party and independent candidates can't win a race much less get on the ballots. While some do manage to bypass the rigorous and often ridiculous requirements set down by the major parties, few if any ever meet their major-party opponents on an equal or fair playing field. That is not the way a Democracy functions. Therefore, I propose that we should alter our House elections system to be more like that used in most states and in most nations governed by parliamentary procedures. Here is an outline of proposed procedural changes:
* Any political party that can garnish 5,000 supporters' signatures in a given state has the right to be on the ballot for House races in that state.
* House seats in each state will be divided up amongst political parties based on the percentage of the House vote each party wins in elections. For example, if out of 100,000 votes the Democratic Party wins 50,000, the Republican Party wins 25,000 and the Green Party wins 25,000, the Democrats will win 1/2 of that state's House seats, the Republicans will win 1/4 and the Green Party will also win 1/4.
* Each political party will be allowed to fill House seats it wins with the legally viable individual of its choice and will not be required to choose someone from its own ranks.
The US Senate Election Process
Though there are less flaws in the US Senate election process than in that of the US House, some concerns still need to be addressed to eliminate corruption and political bias in favor of the major political parties. These changes are as follows:
* Any political party that can garnish 5,000 supporters' signatures in a given state has the right to be on the ballot for the upcoming Senate race in that state.
* Each political party that runs on the ballot has to present a legally viable candidate for the Senate 1 year before the campaigning process begins. Because Senate terms last 6 years, citizens should have every opportunity to get to know those for or against whom they are voting.
The Presidential Election Process
There are two major problems with the process by which American Presidents are elected. First of all, the two major political parties have hijacked the system so that virtually no third-party candidates are able to enter the race. Second, the Electoral College is an antique device, which was intended to make it easier for Americans to vote for the President. At a time when most Americans lived on isolated farms and homesteads, it was easier for them to send an individual to Washington to vote on their behalf. Today, technology has alleviated this problem and yet both major political parties wish to keep the system in place because it makes it easier for their candidates to win the race even when they do not have the popular vote. Given these two major flaws in our system, my proposals are the following:
* Any candidate who can garnish 25,000 supporters’ signatures has the right to be on the Presidential ballot in every state.
* The Electoral College should be abolished, making the popular vote the only means to win the race for the White House.
If these few, minor changes were made to Federal election processes, our Democracy would move three steps closer to being the Republic we claim to be. There are many opponents to my ideas in both major parties but such is to be expected. After all, the powerful do not like to give up what was not theirs to take in the first place. Irregardless to how major political leaders feel, America belongs to Americans, not its Democratic and Republican hijackers. Should we truly be a nation built on ideals as we have always claimed or shall we continue to sink into a sea of polarizing political extremism where base ideals are ignored in favor of big business and special interests? Anyone who truly loves America should stand up and fight for these changes. It is an uphill battle to be sure but as I always like to point out, our Founding Fathers' struggle was one against the entire establishment and yet they were successful. If fighting for what is right was good enough for them over 200 years ago, surely it's good enough for us today. Are we better than they were or lesser? It is our actions or failure to act that will decide.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The New Red Scare: GOP Propaganda

Today, I couldn't think of any one event or issue to discuss so I decided to look for ideas in that wonderful place that advocates of democracy love to hate, the Republican National Committee's website. Amidst the swirling vortex of political spin, I found the usual propaganda; some of it was big and obvious to anyone with at least one foot on the banks of the River Reality but some of it was more subtle. After sifting through the unimaginative drivel, I decided it would be fun to examine some of it with a fine-toothed comb. While this may not be the most interesting thing to do in the world, it will surely tickle your old "Red Scare" funny bone. We'll start with the propaganda regarding SCOTUS nominee John G. Roberts.
The RNC On "Confirm Roberts"
One of the first things that jumped out at me is that the GOP trump machine is going full circuit on Roberts. Even though Democrats aren't raising a very big fuss about the guy, Republicans are blasting them anyway. The funny part of this particular spin cycle was on the "Tell Your Senators" page. It said, "As a citizen and a voter, I am asking you, Sen. (so and so) and Sen. (so and so), to fulfill your Constitutional obligations and confirm Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court." Notice that they specifically said that confirming the President's nominations is the Senators' "Constitutional obligation"? That's propaganda folks. The Constitution says "Advise and Consent" but nowhere does it say it is a Senator's "Constitutional obligation" to confirm a President's nominee. Do you think any Republicans have complained to their party leadership about this use of propaganda?
The RNC On "Red Areas-Blue Areas"
As I closed out the "Tell Your Senators" window, I went back to exploring the RNC's hatesite er um website. Something that caught my eye was their map of red and blue counties around the country, which I have uploaded at the beginning of this post (for the real map, checkout the one on the bottom right of my site.) Republicans have a recent tradition of ignoring those who don't vote for them, whether Democrat, Republican or Independent. This fact was driven home by their map, which shows every county the GOP won last November as a red county, despite the fact that hundreds of counties around the country were in GOP hands by only the narrowest of margins. In an attempt to make it look as if the GOP is the dominant force in America, they simply ignore the fact that most counties are purple, not red or blue. They also ignore the fact that most of those "red" counties are sparsely populated.
To study this "sparsely populated" issue, let's examine my native Oklahoma. The eastern half of Oklahoma is often referred to as "Little Dixie" because there are many Democrats in the area. That half also happens to be where most of the state's residents live. The western half of Oklahoma is firmly Republican but is the domain of ranchers, farmers, sand, cactus, lizards, snakes and not much else. Given that this is the case in most of the country, why do Republicans feel the need to post a propaganda map on their homepage? Are they so unproud and insecure of those who do vote for them that they feel the need to make it look like everyone votes for them? Are they worried that if they don't keep telling Americans that the United States is a conservative country, voters will forget to vote the way they are told? Do you think any Republicans have complained to their party leadership about this use of propaganda?
The RNC On "Passing Resolutions"
After I got through chuckling at Republican insecurity as shown in their map, I decided to look through the RNC's news updates. I found an interesting news brief from yesterday (Friday) where the RNC passed a series of resolutions. Some were fine but as expected, there was propaganda afoot in others.
Resolution One: "Resolution Honoring The Brave Troops Fighting And Winning The War On Terror In Afghanistan And Iraq."
Ok, I can handle that.
Resolution Two: "Resolution Recognizing President Bush’s Efforts To Broaden The Support Of The Republican Party."
That sounded ok too but what came afterwards really caught my attention. "WHEREAS, President Bush has engaged in an incredible outreach effort to broaden the support of the Republican Party;" When and where did he do that? The last time I checked, he was trying to make the poor poorer and outlaw homosexuality. "WHEREAS, the Republican Party believes that all citizens of the United States ought to have access to the American dream;" As Emeril would say, "BAM!" Propaganda again rears it's ugly head in this statement. If the GOP wanted everyone to have a shot at the American Dream, they wouldn't be selling our jobs overseas, replacing them with minimum wage jobs and fighting to make it harder to get a good education.
Resolution Three: "Resolution Supporting President Bush's Nomination Of Judge John Roberts To Replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor On The United States Supreme Court."
This isn't so bad. They are harping at the moonbats again who seem to be quietly roosting in their caves but still, it's not so bad.
Resolution Four: "Resolution Recognizing President Bush’s Efforts To Strengthen Social Security For Future Generations."
"BAM!" Those Republicans sure like their propaganda don't they? Anyone who is elderly or who has an elderly grandparent can tell you that the reason we created Social Security and other related programs in the first place was because the stock market is a double-edged sword. In case Shrubbo has forgotten, the market crashed and a lot of people lost their savings. His ideas to privatize the entire system aren't designed to help anyone and that's good because they wouldn't. The only people or organizations who would benefit under his scheme are A) The companies in which our savings would be invested (many of which would undoubtedly be GOP supporters wouldn't you know) and B) A small handful of Americans who already win big on the stock market. The rest of us would either stay about the same or lose everything. Bush's scheme doesn't really protect citizens' money though he seems to skip that point when he rants about it. Thus, the RNC resorted to propaganda to trump up nonexistent benefits of one of their schemes. Do you think any Republicans have complained to their party leadership about this use of propaganda?
Final Thoughts
After seeing soo much propaganda soo easily in soo short a time, I couldn't bring myself to investigate further. Such anti-American rubbish leaves a bad taste in my mouth. While it is true that neither main political party is totally on the up-and-up, it is overwhelmingly evident that the GOP is no longer able to function on facts, reality and persuasion. They now pursue an agenda that amounts to little more than a quest for absolute power. The only way they can pursue this quest successfully is by foolery, trickery and bribes. They have to try and control the thoughts of the voters and especially party members. To do so, they use cleverly devised propaganda tactics to make Americans think that America is a conservative nation and that conservatives are looking out for them.
Obviously, the reality is that the GOP is promoting religious and corporate special interests and fighting against those of mainstream America. Unlike Ronald Reagan Republicans, Paleo-Republicans if you will, who made honest mistakes with their trickle-down economic theories, the actions of the NeoCon Republicans are deliberate and vile. If their propaganda doesn't demonstrate that fact, the outcome of their actions must surely speak for their true intent. I will ask you again: Do you think any Republicans have complained to their party leadership about their use of propaganda? If they did, they were undoubtedly silenced.
Recent Poll Results: What Is Your Political Ideology?
Ideological Liberal 16.7%
Moderate Liberal 33.3%
Centrist Liberal 16.7%
Centrist Conservative 25%
Moderate Conservative 0%
Ideological Conservative 8.3%

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

George W. Bush: J.R. Ewing Incarnate?

For anyone who lived during the 1980's, the hit soap series Dallas was a must see. Highlighting the corrupt oil industry through the eyes of an oil baron family, the Ewings, it was one of the highest rated shows of all time. Its cast consisted of the usual soap-mix of characters including Jock Ewing- the hardworking family patriarch, Bobby Ewing- the archetypal "good son" and J.R. Ewing- the greedy son bent on taking absolute power. There was even a half-brother, Ray Krebbs, whose purpose seemed to be helping Bobby put an end to J.R.'s schemes. As one might guess, J.R. was both the villain and the star of the show. Everything that happened did so because of him and thus it is safe to say that overall, the show was an in-depth look at the politics of money and power as driven by one corrupt Texas oil baron. This leads to an interesting parallel: George W. Bush is, like J.R., a corrupt Texas oil baron bent on increasing his wealth and power at any cost. What similarities are there between Larry Hagman's character, J.R. Ewing, and the President of the United States? Let's have a look.
J.R. Ewing
If Bobby Ewing inherited Jock's charm and diplomatic skills, it's safe to say that J.R. Ewing inherited all of Jock's lust for wealth and desire for dominance. J.R. was willing to do whatever it took to get his way and would stop at nothing to ensure that his fortune, and that of Ewing Oil, was safe and always on the rise. From beginning to end, J.R. did his best to immitate Jock's uncanny ability to beat out rivals. He even took it one step further, going beyond fair competition and delving into secret alliances, often with foreign nations and companies with whom it the US Government had made it illegal to do business. The most famous example of this was when he shipped oil from Cuba in an attempt to beat Bobby in a contest for control of Ewing Oil following Jock's death. J.R. wasn't above using blackmail, forging illegal contracts and paying bribes to get his way. He did so quite frequently.
G.W. Bush
G.W., like his television parallel, inherited his father's wit and desire for power but none of his charm. G.W. spent the early years of his life watching his father's successful business pursuits and then later his entree into politics. As his father's success brought increasing levels of comfort to the family, Bush became spoiled by wealth and position. He took to partying, which eventually led to his becoming an alcoholic and drug user. Unlike J.R., Bush wasn't at first taken as someone with serious pursuits. At his prestigious high school, the Phillips Academy of Andover, Massachusetts, he was voted class clown in 10th Grade. After he graduated from Yale University for the second time in 1975, he was pulled over by police in Maine for driving under the influence. He has since dismissed his younger years as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth."
In 1979, Bush followed in his father's footsteps when he entered the oil industry. He founded oil and gas exploration company, Arbusto Energy, which he later sold to another Texas firm, Spectrum 7, where he became the chief executive. A few years later, Spectrum 7's fortunes declined so Bush helped orchestrate the company's sale to Harken Energy Corporation, where he became a company director. Within a few short years, Harken also found itself falling on hard times. Bush's sale of company stocks a short time before the decline in revenues brought allegations of insider trading on his part. Though he was cleared of all charges when a government inquiry concluded suspiciously that his role as a company director was a minor one, his reputation as a behind-the-scenes businessman with high-level connections began at this time. It's interesting to note that just as Bush was taking up the shady business mantle, J.R. Ewing's era was coming to an end. While the Federal government was investigating Bush, Dallas' 13 season run came to an end on May 3, 1991.
A Ewing-Like Bush Enters Politics
Like J.R., Bush saw himself as suited for one thing and one thing only: power. When he began his political career in 1994, he knew because of his years at the helm of Texas oil companies that he couldn't cut the political mustard with simple bribes and blackmail. He was very talented at toting the hard-line when it came to getting what he wanted but he knew daggers and threats weren't going to be enough to win the bread in politics. Like J.R. in a crunch, Bush sought out that special brand of help that involved propaganda in public and selling his soul to evil behind the scenes. Enter Karl Rove.
Karl Rove: An Advisor Fit For A Ewing
History now shows that Karl Rove and G.W. were perfect for each other. Rove is in many ways all of J.R.'s bought-and-paid for allies in business, politics and the oil cartel rolled into one, but with an important difference: Rove is as much in charge of Bush as Bush is in charge of Rove. J.R.'s alliances usually benefited him alone whereas Bush's rise to power has been a boom not just for himself but for Rove as well. An ugly, inward-facing man who has spent his life scheming behind the scenes to accomplish his goals, Rove knew all along that he couldn't succeed as an elected politician. Bush, like J.R., is outward facing, seeking power in the public eye, which the public can see and that he can gloat on. This made him the perfect candidate to act out Karl Rove's political fantasies. Thus, Rove became the thinking half of their team and Bush became its public persona. In any case, the Bush-Rove relationship has been as successful and underhanded as any that J.R. ever had.
A Glimpse At A J.R. Ewing White House
Many Dallas fans over the years have wondered what would have happened if the series had continued. Would J.R. have ultimately gotten into politics? Would he have eventually ran for Governor of Texas or the White House? The bad news is, we'll never know. The good news, or worse news perhaps, is that we have a very good living example of what a J.R. Ewing stint in office might have been like. It's ongoing as we speak.
G.W.'s campaign to become the Governor of Texas was, like his and J.R.'s business deals, cold and calculating. At Rove's behest, he held strictly to a four topic campaign platform: education reform, juvenile justice reform, tort reform and welfare reform. Whenever anyone asked him about his other intentions, he would say he couldn't comment until he "passed the first four goals". This very deliberate and calculating plan allowed him to focus on the weaknesses of his opponent, incumbent governor Ann Richards (D), without openly exposing his own. Thus, rather than showing the voters his true intentions, he showed them a small, bright picture representing a false image of his plans. The public went for it. Not once, but two times.
G.W.'s White House campaigns were much the same as his gubernatorial ones. As per Rove's instructions, he focused on a narrow-point agenda and refused to deviate, no doubt in fear that exposing his true motives would lose the elections. In 2000, he declared himself a "compassionate conservative" and spread mass propaganda to that effect, playing the fears of Americans like a well-tuned guitar. While perpetually avoiding going into detail, he told Americans that he wanted to "maintain" President Clinton's balanced budget and continue his father's tradition of restructuring the post-Cold War military. In the end, the public saw through his propaganda. As in his oil industry days, he was forced to rely on his connections to win the Presidency.
After Election Day 2000, victory teeter-tottered on the infamous Florida vote recount. All manner of stories were afoot because it appeared that Democratic voters had been blocked from the polls and many Democratic vote ballots had been destroyed or not counted. These suspicious happenings hinged on the fact that Florida's governor was Bush's brother, whom being a very conservative politician like G.W., was widely believed to have ordered his Republican-controlled government to aid G.W. in subtle but underhanded ways. In the end, however, even this was not enough to give G.W. victory. After weeks of political maneuvering on his part, the US Supreme Court awarded G.W. the White House. Every conservative justice but one voted ideologically in Bush's favor, though according to the Constitution it wasn't the SCOTUS' place to decide. Indeed, that duty belonged to Congress. In light of this fact, it's interesting to note that since the 2000 Elections, conservatives have been barking 24/7 about judicial activism. Go figure. J.R. Ewing himself couldn't have manipulated politics, played on the loyalty of his allies and fooled the public better than G.W. did.
It isn't necessary to delve any further into G.W.'s career to see the blinding similarities between him and J.R. Ewing. Both men were/are spoiled, rich and corrupt to the bone. Both were/are willing to do anything no matter how low to accomplish their goals. Both rely/relied upon brute force and public-foolery to maintain their status quo. Neither man was/is honest, even with those closest to them. The result is that even though Ewing was a fictitious character, he has been brought to life by G.W. Bush and even fleshed out a bit in many areas. We have a good though very costly example of what a Ewing White house would have been like so let us put the curiosity of the ages to rest. The only unanswered question is this: Did G.W. base his career on that of J.R. Ewing or are the similarities merely creepy coincidence? Only G.W. knows for sure and as in other areas where his honesty is in doubt, he isn't saying a thing, just maintaining a J.R. Ewing-like grin.

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Last Modified On January 31, 2006