Sunday, February 27, 2011

Carpe diem

Liberals should seize the day by reorganizing the Progressive Party first organized by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909. It could serve admirably as a liberal rejoinder to the Tea Party and help keep the Democratic Party from slipping even farther to the right then it already has. The Tea Party has had a definite effect in propelling the Republican Party farther to the right and created an impetus and momentum that is dragging the left with it. Had the Democrats had such a party to deal with, the healthcare bill would very likely have had a single payer option and President Obama’s first two years would have been even more productive than they were.
The recent events in the Middle East and Wisconsin have sparked a renewed interest in public demonstrations and protest not seen in this country since the Vietnam War with the exception of the Tea Party rally’s and town hall meetings inspired by President Obama’s election. The union busting agenda of Governor Walker in Wisconsin has gone a long way toward unifying the middle and working class and convincing them of the national scope of the war being waged against them by the movement conservatives. It has identified the self-styled aristocracy that is the power behind the throne in the personages of the Koch brothers and with a concerted effort on the part of real died in the wool liberals the rest such as Doug Coe, Roger Ailes, Robert Murdoch and their ilk can be exposed to the same sunshine and notoriety.
Such a party or movement would serve to keep the blue dog democrats in line or replace them with real liberals loyal to progressive principals and values. It would generate a level of enthusiasm and excitement equivalent to or greater than that which the Tea Party has generated on the right and revitalize the liberal base coming in to the 2012 elections. Given the money that the Citizen’s United case will allow movement conservatives to throw at that election it is imperative that the left take advantage of every opportunity to energize its base and strengthen its position in the minds of American voters.
Strangely enough as an offshoot of the Republican Party the platform of the Progressive Party was one sure to be comfortably familiar to today’s liberal democrat. It included national healthcare, social insurance for the elderly, disabled and unemployed, farm relief, limited injunctions relative to strikes and workers compensation. It also called for giving woman the right to vote, judicial recall and the passage of laws by initiative and referendum. One of the strongest and most controversial aspects of the platform was the oversight, regulation and restraint placed on corporation and the strict limits and disclosure of corporate campaign contributions.
In my mind it is an idea whose time has come and the liberal media and organizations including the unions and major donors and contributors would be well served to organize and support a real grass roots movement based on the Progressive Party. There are times as any smoke eater will tell you when your best option is to fight fire with fire and this is one of those times. Some on the right will remind us that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and that is OK too. Like them or not the Tea Party has strengthened the rights hand and pushed them even farther to the right as it was designed to do. In this case imitation is definitely called for.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Arrogance Unbridled

It is amazing how fast the right started moving on abortion after the mid-terms. For all the urgency touted about how quick they were going to go after creating jobs and the deficit I still have not heard one word about a jobs program and their idea of fixing the budget is more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and the rest is placed on the backs of what’s left of the middle class and the working poor. With lightening speed though the first thing they went after was a way to impede the healthcare many woman relied on Planned Parenthood to provide and the drafting of some of the most terrifying, draconian and mindless laws designed to redefine rape, criminalize miscarriages and setup a repeal of Roe V Wade which they can probably accomplish now that they are in charge of the Supreme Court as well as the house.
God only knows what weird psychosis and personality defects infect the minds of men intent on intruding on a decision that should be left up to the conscience of the affected woman and her higher power if she has one. I am sure it is the same type of mindset that entices them to cheat on their wives, get lost on the Appalachian Trail, hire their mistresses, cruise Craig’s List for transgender dates, pursue their pages and arrogantly assume that they have the right to legislate morality and criminalize anything they consider sins, except their own.
Men do not and cannot understand the thoughts, feelings, fears, and values that a woman brings to a decision that she well knows will stay with her the rest of her life. We do not get pregnant and are not subject to that result from attacks on our persons, unintentional indiscretions or failures of commercial birth control methods. We can’t possibly put ourselves in her shoes relative to all the considerations a woman with an unwanted pregnancy must look at and weigh nor is it our place to tell her what she can or cannot do with her body.
Rather than take such a medieval approach to this conundrum the government should strengthen and support Planned Parenthood which will help prevent some say up to six hundred thousand unwanted pregnancies a year. They should offer woman with unwanted pregnancies more options for adoptions and if a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy they should offer counseling, prayers and beyond that they should mind their own business.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Selling of the Supreme Court

It is hardly surprising but nevertheless extremely disappointing to learn that Justice Clarence Thomas and Atonin Scalia have sold out the country by refusing to recuse themselves from the Citizens’ United case due to their close association with the groups that both brought the case and benefited from their votes. Additionally, Justice Thomas’s wife was the CEO of an organization that had a vested interest in the result. Federal ethics laws would have required the justices to recuse themselves from this case for either of those two reasons and because neither situation was common knowledge at the time they saw no need take the high road.

The organization Common Cause has written to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate the matter and if appropriate to petition the court to vacate the decision. It is not my intention to lay out the facts all over again and I would urge anyone interested in the story to look at the Common Cause website where the facts and supporting documentation are expertly and coherently laid out.

In theory the Supreme Court is a non-partisan and a-political branch of government whose purpose is to adjudicate the cases brought before it in terms of their constitutionality. Unlike lower courts they do not consider themselves finders of fact or arbiters of the truth. Their sole purpose is to ensure that the lower court’s rulings are in line constitutionally in order to protect the integrity of that most precious of documents. Unfortunately that theory has transmogrified into an ever more politically based institution responding to its various constituencies in a very aggressive and activist political manner.

The process of getting a nominee approved for the high court has evolved into a witch hunt centered on the candidate’s political philosophies and ignoring their judicial qualifications for the most part. Partisan bickering over their perceived judicial temperament or how they are likely to vote on various issues seems to be the only consideration. Liberals want liberal judges and conservatives want conservative judges and their constitutional knowledge and qualifications be dammed.

Over time that attitude has divided the court in a way that it is consistently described by how it leans one way or the other politically. Decisions that are decided five to four are typical of a divided court and some now think of the court more as a super legislature than a judicial bench considering legalities. This is a frightening and intolerable situation that threatens the very fabric of our constitution and the principals on which we were founded.

To be sure the sitting justices are human and prone to have predilections, prejudices’ and political beliefs that influence their views and opinions. One would hope though that through a process of conversation, argument and debate with their sole purpose being the fairest and finest finding of constitutionally appropriate applicability they would be capable of putting personal preference aside for a more judicial approach.

There is no doubt that Justices Scalia and Thomas should have recused themselves and that if they had done so the ruling would have been different, in fact it would have been four to three against. That two justices of our highest court would rule on a case where they are closely involved or benefiting financially from their involvement with either of the litigants is just unconscionable on their part and should be resolved through impeachment. Once trust is broken it is irrevocably broken especially with one so highly placed.

It would be an open invitation to those people and entities that would not hesitate to compromise a sitting Supreme Court justice either financially or through strictly ideological postulation if we let this impropriety pass unpunished. The court needs to be put on notice that if any member transgresses the ethical, moral or legal boundaries’ they are expected to observe and respect that we will quickly move to terminate their privilege and regulate them to history’s garbage dump.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let Us Hope It Is Contagious

The Egyptian people have won a stunning victory in their spontaneous revolution and pursuit of democracy. They are to be congratulated and have every right to feel vindicated in their decision to pursue their goals through peaceful mass protest. They showed an amazing amount of courage, unity, spontaneity, grace and resolve under enormous pressure from the government to cease and desist their demonstrations. They should be held up and are a shining light for any other people wanting to throw off the yoke of a tyrannical government.
Their journey toward a free and just society imbued with the necessary and appropriate democratic reforms has just begun. There are as yet many unanswered questions involving how the Egyptian Army and Secret Police and all of the other stake holders will interact to bring about meaningful and lasting change. I am confident though that any move to short change these wonderfully courageous people will be met with another outpouring of resolve and determination to be completely free and represented by a government of their choosing.
Hopefully their example will prompt others to emulate their decision to be free and demand a democratic government that represents the will of the people. If done thoughtfully and with intelligence and grace like in Egypt such changes can be made while preserving cultural institutions like monarchies and existing bureaucracies that are functional and effective. England comes to mind as an example. The Queen does not rule but still has historical prestige and influence.
In rewriting their constitution one would hope they would copy liberally from ours which is the finest ever written and make a few modifications that would make it better and more culturally acceptable to them. In particular they should include term limits and be very careful about the laws governing campaign financing. They will probably also want to combine secular, Christian and Sharia law in setting up their judicial system to reflect what is already in place and working.
They may choose to model their new constitution more on the French example since their judicial system primarily follows the French legal system in terms of secular law. The great thing is that they have the opportunity to start from scratch and build a government based on the best of every democracy and eliminating the mistakes others have made. Term limits and campaign finance come to mind as an example.
The Egyptians have given us a thrilling eighteen days of historical achievement and have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they richly deserve the freedom they seek because they are willing to die for it. They have come together as one people to demand and take their rightful place among freedom loving peoples and nations. We should take heart that their courage and actions will inspire further revolutions and that the day when tyranny is abolished on this planet is closer now than it was before.
A planet full of free peoples wanting the same things and working together to achieve them is a utopian dream to be sure but the Egyptians just brought us one step closer. Maybe someday we will evolve to the point where our common goals will bring us together in an effort to eradicate disease, hunger, poverty and war. In moments like this one can almost imagine a planet where we work together to heal the environment, create great literature and art, solve the mysteries of the universe and live in peace.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It Is About Freedom

The current struggle being waged by the Egyptians is a wonderful example of a people finally finding the will and determination to be free. It is not as Glen (the sky is falling) Beck and others think the beginning of a fundamentalist uprising to implement Sharia Law on a global basis. It would seem to me that both sides of the aisle and the administration should have already come down on the side of the people of Egypt if only because what they are demonstrating for is closely aligned with the principals and values our nation was founded on.
Despite the fact that we have supported a dictator for thirty some years in the mistaken belief that there would never be any consequences to our turning our backs on our professed values and engaging in blackmail as a way to keep Egypt out of conflict with Israel we owe it to the Egyptian people and our own founders to support their desire for freedom and a democratic form of government. We either believe in democracy for all or we don’t really believe in it at all.
The second sentence in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the very next sentence it says governments are instituted among men to secure those rights and that they obtain their just powers from the consent of the governed. We either still believe that or we don’t. You can’t qualify those principals or change them for some one way and for others another way.
So if we really believe that “all men are created equal” there should be no discussion about whether or not we support the Egyptian people in what they are so courageously trying to do, win their freedom. In a lot of our nation building efforts around the world our government has talked about setting people free. Bush proclaimed Iraq free after he invaded it and said that even though no WMD were found the gift of freedom we gave the Iraqi people was worth the cost in lives, money and material. It is still an open question in my mind if Iraq will remain free after we pull out all combat troops and the Iraqi people become responsible for their own freedom and each other.
Freedom is not a gift you can bestow on someone who has not evolved intellectually and morally to the point where they are willing to die for it. It sounds like a cliché but freedom is not free. It requires “a willingness to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” to quote from the inaugural address of John F Kennedy. The Iraqis have so far not shown that they are ready for freedom but the tens of thousands of Egyptians that have lived in Tahrir Square in Cairo for the last two weeks surely have convinced me that they are.
President Obama today gave his most forceful endorsement yet to the Egyptian people and called for the Egyptian government to give meaningful and concrete answers leading to free and fair elections and democracy. There are to be sure practical considerations to consider in how we respond to this situation but not supporting these people in their quest for their god given rights is not an option that would leave us with any credibility or honor.
Should they be successful and they will be eventually their success will help to enlighten those who are denied their liberty and freedom by their repressive regimes and governments. Should the Egyptian government resort to a violent repression of the people in the streets they will only postpone the inevitable. The cauldron of freedom is boiling in Cairo and it will surely boil over if they create more martyrs and try to delay the changes the people are demanding. A civil war is not only possible it is probable if the authorities don’t agree to the righteous demands of the people.
Hopefully that won’t happen and there will be a peaceful transfer of power to a more democratic form of government willing to respond to the just demands of the governed.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The War Party

The Republican Party shall henceforth and forever more be known by myself as the War Party until they refudiate (their word not mine) their waging of class warfare on the citizenry of this country. Their current chief Cries-a-Lot will have to foreswear his warfare on the average citizen on behalf of the corporate power mongers and wealthy illuminati who are trying to transfer the cost of living in this country entirely to the proletariat.
Their primary aim even over and above ridding themselves of President Obama is to increase the inequality between themselves and the average citizen who they see as only fit to labor on their behalf for the rewards and compensation they deem appropriate. In their pursuit of personal enrichment they have and will utilize wars, police actions and nation building as a means to an end. There is no limit to the human suffering they will sanction in pursuit of riches and power.
They will if allowed destroy and eliminate all aspects of social conscience from the operation and implementation of governments under their control both state and federal. They will if we allow it dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation and the Food Stamp program. They operate from a belief in every person for him or herself and the devil take the slow, sick, infirm and aged.
They have amassed a great army of media and corporate conglomerates that fund their insidious attack on democracy and social programs designed to ameliorate the suffering of the weak, dispossessed, infirm, sickly and otherwise physically, spiritually and mentally challenged among us. They would have us return back to a time when the old and infirm or young and useless were left under a tree to make their peace with the great spirit while the tribe moved on to better ground.
Their sole motive in life is ever larger profits and self enrichment based on the theory that whoever dies with the most toys and money wins. They feel no responsibility to their fellow man and actually have nothing but distain for those who do not affirm their world view and values. Protestations on their part aside their only aim is to dismantle all governments and replace them with a board of directors of their choosing. Unfortunately given an apathetic electorate and enough time they have a very good chance of success in that endeavor.
They have over time gained a majority of activist judges on the Supreme Court with which they plan to prevent implementation of any progressive initiatives passed into law such as the recent healthcare law and further their aims and ambitions. As of this writing and since Bush v Gore the court has proven to be solidly partisan in its findings and decisions. This combined with unlimited monetary clout and media concurrence and propaganda at their disposal make them a formidable foe of the common man.
Their fear mongering war chiefs like Glen(The Sky is Falling)Beck, Rush(The Imbecile)Limbaugh and John(Crooked Tongue)Hannity along with other supposedly more journalistically inclined braves and squaws from the Fox Nation and other right wing media outlets keep up the attack with a daily barrage of fear mongering, half truths and outright prevarications that even include using the wrong film clips and other disreputable acts that assault the truth and denigrate all journalist who fail to call them on it.
They appeal to the paranoid and fundamentalist among us who believe it is their responsibility to help god bring about the biblical prophecies relative to the end of the world and the second coming. Most of these people are arrogant enough to believe that their god welcomes or needs their assistance in furthering his aims and achieving his goals.
As time and talent allow I will in the future attempt to elucidate my feelings and believes with irrefutable facts and figures proving the depth and evil tenor of what Hillary Clinton rightly called “A vast right wing conspiracy.” The truth is out there still for those with the desire to seek it and wisdom to know it when they see it, at least for now anyway.