(D) or (R)? Why do you ask?

Things are so bad for the Republicans right now that many of them are running ads this year without mentioning their party affiliation. What has happened to the cocky, proud GOP? The “we’re right and they’re wrong, and that’s why we win” party? I can’t help but wonder what the Hannity’s and Limbaugh’s of the world will say when the House and Senate are lost to the Democrats. I suppose they can say what they want, make any outrageous claims they want, but the simple fact is that this “unitary government” idea — a government made up of and run by Republicans-only — has failed miserably. It has made the world a less-safe place, it has put tremendous pressure on the middle class and the poor, it has destroyed our good name around the globe, and it has led to a gigantic erosion of our civil liberties. Oddly enough, the “fiscally responsible” GOP who was always complaining about “tax-and-spend liberals” has also pretty much bankrupted the treasury. Well, that’s how some would put it I guess. Me, I would say that many have STOLEN the treasury. After all, the wealthiest Americans have gotten MUCH wealthier over the last six years, and as far as I’m concerned, no one should be getting massive tax cuts (money that should be going into the treasury) when the deficits are so staggering. Bush was keen on saying, “it’s YOUR MONEY” when there were projected surpluses. So if the surplus belongs to the rich, which is exactly where it all went, then what happens when there’s a deficit? No one has to pay for that? Oh, suddenly we ALL share in the deficits. Isn’t that wonderful? Imagine the richest Americans going to the country’s working class to bail them out? They’re not all to blame of course, some of the wealthiest Americans such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have gone on record as saying they didn’t want these tax cuts. They didn’t need their tax cuts. Aren’t we lucky that an economist like George W. Bush knows better how to handle the country’s money than some hack like Warren Buffet…


That Salon article shows just how bad things are for the GOP this year should the status quo hold through November. If the country had its way, Republicans wouldn’t be in charge of anything after November. I can’t tell you how heartening it is to see that the American people clearly saw this latest slate of “moral values” initiatives put forth on the House floor for exactly what they were — pandering at the highest and most shameless level.

A caller this morning on the Jerry Springer show asked fill-in host Jay Marvin why he should have to “put up with” gay marriage. He said he “didn’t like to see that,” and said the reason why it should be outlawed is because “it’s been that way for so long” and that gay marriage “went against the natural order of things.” Marvin took him to task on the “tradition” aspect, noting that if we did things because “that’s the way it’s always been,” or because of tradition, we would still have slaves in this country. The caller reinforced that he shouldn’t have to put up with this, and Marvin correctly mentioned that he is going to have to put up with it because that’s the way the country is headed — that a majority of Americans under 40 do not want to see anyone discriminiated against because of their sexual orientation, and that it was only a matter of time before civil unions, at the very least, become recognized by the government.

The tide is turning, and there are going to be a lot of disappointed GOP-ers this November. That is assuming the Democrats don’t once again shoot themselves in the foot by trying to be everything to everyone. It’s time to stand up and speak from the heart rather than triangulation.

Meanwhile, Over at the Huff Post…

Been checking out some great stuff over at the Huffington Post tonight. You have to see this illustration from David Mamet’s blog. Just classic. If Bush is a man of his word, he should rise to the challenge set forth by Mr. Mamet. Just brilliant.

Also, Huffington herself covers the story of Bill Clinton’s endorsement of Joe Lieberman in the mid-term Senate elections over real Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont. This will, I believe, be the first time that I have ever hoped that Bill Clinton’s influence on an election backfires, and it really pains me to say this. Of course, it’s not surprising that President Clinton would endorse Lieberman and his position on the Iraq occupation, given Hillary’s very well known stance on the issue. I’ve been thinking lately that Hillary and Joe are of the same mold, but I don’t really think that’s true. You see, Hillary does, in fact, have a Democratic challenger, but she is ahead by such a wide margin in the polls that she doesn’t need to worry about running as an independent. However, I believe that even if the race for that Senate seat was tighter, Mrs. Clinton still wouldn’t stoop to the levels that Lieberman has. Lieberman does not like to play on an even playing field. He was the favored candidate until recently (when Lamont’s recent poll numbers have him ahead by ten points in the primary, and still he has so little confidence in his ability to be re-elected that he has to go and form an independent party (the Connecticut for Lieberman party, no less) so that he can run against Lamont should the good Democratic voters of Connecticut decide that they would rather put Mr. Lamont in that seat. Doesn’t that sound a whole lot like dirty pool? But I’ve talked about Joe’s lack of respect for the rules of the game before, so it’s to be expected. I guess it’s all to be expected. I was just surprised is all.

But one thing is certain. Lieberman has to be desperate to call in a favor of this magnitude. We’re talking more desperate than creating a new political party to CYA. After all, it was Lieberman who couldn’t get out of his seat fast enough to lash out at Clinton from the Senate floor during the whole Kenneth Starr bru-ha-ha (yes, I stole that link from the Huffington article). So much for party unity, eh? Party unity! Isn’t that what Lieberman is crying about now? Democrats should rise up and support him and be “all inclusive” of candidates who decide they don’t really need to carry the voice of the people they represent to the Senate? Ugh. This piece at Daily Kos spells out exactly how Clinton got called up to Connecticut, but it seems as if the truth and Lieberman’s version of the truth are two very different things.

Huffington also points out an obvious error the usually eloquent Clinton made when talking about Lieberman’s stance on the issues, noting that Clinton called the Iraq war the “pink elephant in the room.” Um, Mr. Clinton? I guess you haven’t been reading the papers or the internet, or anything else about this campaign because Iraq is the central issue here!!!

She also ends the piece with a must-read “exclusive preview” of what President Clinton was to say on the stump. All I can say is that someone must’ve fed her a very early version of the speech.

The shakedown happens two weeks from today.

Meanwhile, definitely check out Lieberman’s Music Video over on YouTube. Great stuff.

Oh yeah, and Hannity STILL claims that we found WMDs in Iraq.

This is our Representative to the World??

Check out this video from Crooks and Liars for yet another wonderful visit into the world of George W. Bush and what happens when he doesn’t know the microphones are on (transcript and WMP/QT videos are available). He speaks with his mouth full, interrupts Tony Blair constantly, reiterates his “yee-haw” style of foreign policy, shows a complete ignorance of basic geography, and swears. Nice, right? I’m so proud. Whatta guy.

Big problems over at Katherine Harris’ Headquarters for her Senatorial Bid. Apparently, she’s taken back $100K from her campaign to complete renovations on her house. According to the article, she’s lost most of her staff because she likes to berate them and throw tantrums, and she’s also not been able to raise half the amount of money of the incumbent Democrat, Bill Nelson.

If you want to get a sense of why Joe Lieberman needs to get a giant wake up call and either run as a Republican or start acting like a Democrat, check out Jane Hamsher’s on-the-ground report over at the Huffington Post about the Lieberman-Lamont race. Even though Lieberman created his own party so he can run against Lamont if he loses the primary (seemingly indicating good ol’ Joe feels he might be the “underdog” in this race), Lieberman still won’t debate Lamont. I thought you should only resist a debate if you’re pretty secure in the knowledge that you’ll win the race? As I’ve said before, I would be out on my rooftop trying to get television signals from across the Long Island Sound if this debate happened. I’d want to see it in real time!

Hillary Clinton has reportedly taken almost a cool million in campaign contributions from the healthcare industry. Still think she’s “of the people, for the people?”

And last, but not least, over at the Washington Post is some great news for liberal Democrats. The Democracy Alliance is reportedly making good on its pledge to fund liberal think-tanks in much the same fashion that conservatives have funded similar think-tanks for the past thirty years or so. We have a lot of catching up to do, but with the Neo-Con agenda being properly fingered by the general public for the weakened State of the Union right now, perhaps it won’t take quite as long to reclaim the vocabulary the right-wing has been using against liberals for the past twenty to thirty years as it might have otherwise. Of course, with all this money going to liberal causes, some of the so-called “centrist Democrats” (most of whom are beholden to the Democratic Leadership Council) are getting pretty pissed that they’re not getting any cash from the new pool. The article seems to judge the Democracy Alliance fairly harshly, implying that organizations like the DLC deserve funding like every other Democratic organization. But the key is, this is a liberal organization, not a Democratic organization. Funds were denied to the DLC on an ideological basis, and it would appear that many of the organizations with close ties to Washington have been skipped over. Why? Because this is about returning power to the people, where it belongs. It might seem odd that the way to return power to the people is with massive influxes of cash from donors who made their money in corporate America, but it is purely obvious to those who are behind the money and behind the project as a whole that the “establishment” is not looking out for the United States, its citizens, or its place in the global community. This is about change, and you don’t enact change by continuing to fund failed, established ideas. We’ve tried it the DLC way. It doesn’t work. Time for new blood, new energy, and that’s exactly what the Democracy Alliance is funding. Hillary and Joe must be so upset.

On the Brink…

So while World War III is fast approaching (well, Newt Gingrich on yesterday’s Meet The Press actually thinks it’s here already), I figured I’d just post this list of possible titles from a few books I’ve been thinking that people in the Bush administration should write. Enjoy.

  • They’ve Got Your Number — The White House and Domestic Spying
  • Feeding and Care of Government Plants — The Jeff Gannon Story
  • A Brick Through Your Window — The Patriot Act Revealed
  • From Florida to Ohio — Theft of a Nation (Twice!)
  • Killing Kyoto — How to Demolish a Glacier in Only Eight Years
  • Under My Thumb — The Disappearance of America’s Middle Class
  • Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore — The “New” New Orleans
  • Does Not Work Well With Others — Bush vs. North Korea and Iran
  • You Sunk my Pension! — The Enron Connection
  • One Cocktail Too Many — How Cheney Shot A Man In The Face
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do — The Signing Statements of George Dubya
  • Oedipus Revisited — Why Bush Jr. Started A War
  • Knock, Knock… — Dick Cheney and the Secret Energy Meetings
  • It’s Really Good To Know The King — Halliburton and the No Bid Contract
  • Fleischer, McClellan and Snow — No Comment
  • I Wish They Would Just Stop It — Bush’s Foreign Policy
  • Pardon Me? — Scooter Libby’s Christmas Wish List

R.I.P. – Syd Barrett

It doesn’t seem to be making much news this side of the pond, but Syd Barrett, the legendary founder of Pink Floyd, died a few days ago from complications arising from diabetes. The news was just announced today for some reason though. He was only 60. He spent his last years living off the royalties from Floyd’s first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” gardening and creating art, some of which will hopefully see the light of day somewhere down the road.

That whole era of the late ’60s sure had its casualties, didn’t it? So many brilliant musicians and artists either completely immobilized or killed by drugs. Barrett, of course, suffered from severe mental illness (some say as a result of his near-daily LSD usage, but it could very well be that he was also trying to medicate himself — who knows). At the same time as the Beach Boys’ “Smile,” the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” and the Moody Blues’, “Days of Future Passed” were being recorded, Syd was in the studio with Pink Floyd putting together “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” By the time he left the band (after only one album), his stamp on his ‘mates had been made — sonic soundscapes, tape loops and other audio effects appeared on every Pink Floyd album that followed, to say nothing of the number of songs and album titles that were written about him or paid tribute to him.

There has to be some sense of guilt on the part of Gilmour, Waters, Mason & Wright over going on to such success after making the decision to leave Syd behind I’m sure, even though the former band leader spent the rest of his life living off royalties from “Piper,” and apparently wasn’t hurting for money. Must be strange. Not that they really had a choice, of course. By the time Syd was kicked out, he was staring into space at gigs or not showing up for recording sessions, so in a way you could say he quit.

Most of my favorite bands seem to have fan bases of a few thousand people worldwide. Pink Floyd is one of the few exceptions, and continues to be one of my favorite bands of all time. I especially find myself listening to the Barrett-era stuff when I’m knee-deep in deadlines, and I need to zone away from lyrics and more toward soundscapes so as not to become distracted from my work. Each time this happens I inevitably “re-discover” the band, and their CDs end up back in my car for a month or more, much to the chagrin of my wife and stepson, who are not really fans. Or perhaps they are fans, but consider most of the catalog to be “overplayed,” probably thanks to rides in my car. My stepson did recently admit to me that “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” the Roger Waters tune that blasts Mary Whitehouse (another UK staple), is one song he actually doesn’t mind in my car’s CD rotation. Rock on.

As you can probably tell, I really don’t know what to say about Syd’s death. I guess it kind of just shocked me, even though I suppose these announcements always come some day. I just hope that he does get his due credit in the history of music books as time goes on. We’ll miss you, Syd.

The Meaning of Patriotism

Yes, Virginia, there is a double standard. It’s called hypocrisy, and there are certain talk show hosts and reporters that are intimate with its details. You see, it’s all well and good for a sitting president to “de-classify” the covert status of a CIA operative who has associates all over the world who doesn’t know she’s a spy. It’s OK for a sitting president, back in 2002, to say we’re going to track down terrorists using their bank accounts, but it’s not OK for the New York Times to report — four years later — that the government may have abused their power to do so because it was targeting US citizens. It’s OK for Ann Coulter and other right-wing pundits to condemn the New York Times and say she wished Timothy McVeigh had chosen that newspaper’s main office as a target instead of the FBI building, but that does not stop her from asking people NOT to refer to her as a “New York Times Bestselling Author.” Come to think of it, I don’t think any right-wing pundit has ever had a problem with being referred to as that.

It’s so transparent, is what it is… It’s defensiveness… Kill the messenger, right?

On July 4th, I plan to read the whole Constitution of the United States (annotation is provided at that site as well), since I’ve never read it other than those sections which I studied in high school.

Perhaps the most famous amendment to the Constitution is, of course, the First, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Now, people like Ann Coulter might say she was “never a big fan” of the First Amendment, but it is that amendment that allows her to distribute her filth in the bookstores and spout it on the Today show. When the founding fathers left England, the presses were licensed from the government, and the church and state had to “approve” the content. Ann isn’t a fan of the First Amendment because her hate propaganda would most likely be deemed acceptable in a climate such as the late 1600’s, since it falls right in line with the message the ruling theocracy would like to send to the masses. Those of us who would like to hear and speak the truth aren’t always so lucky. This is why the First Amendment was passed, and progressives should never be surprised when those who love political hate speech would like to see it go away.

I’m not saying anything new here, I know. But it just continues to amaze me how transparent the GOP’s motives are… How they can continue to chastize the press for finally doing its job of revealing this administration’s ever-widening web of extreme abuse of power.

As the neo-con movement dies and its remaining members clamber up its decaying hull, their cries will reach a fever pitch. Hopefully through all of this, it will be easier and easier for the public to see how hollow this whole “values campaign” charade has been. They are not out to help us, they are out for themselves — out to line their pockets with United States Treasury cash. They need to stay in power to keep their bank accounts flush, and their tactics will get ever more desperate. This July 4th, America finally seems to be watching the high drama unfolding in Washington. Congress has lower approval ratings than George W. Bush, and there is a reason for that. America knows that the Congress is spinning its wheels, paying itself big bucks to discuss issues that have little or no bearing on the daily lives of US citizens. They wonder just who are these people we’re paying to send to Washington to represent us, and what are they doing with our time? Why are they talking about flag burning and rolling back a tax that affects 0.27% of the people in this country? Why did those same people refuse to give the working class a break by raising the minimum wage for the first time in ten years in the very same week they voted themselves pay raises? What is going on?

Perhaps this is part of a large agenda to raise the level of static so that we’ll all be deaf to what’s really going on? It’s the job of the press to take away that static — to report things that really matter to us and to tell us what’s REALLY going on.

That’s totally contrary to the current neo-con agenda. They don’t want the media to clarify the view. They want the controlled message. In their ideal world, all messages would once again be approved by the ruling class. Their propaganda would continue to speak of the grand successes of their strategies instead of revealing the truth of it all — that every one of their policies for the past six years have been total and complete failures for this country as a whole, starting with their complete dropping of the ball on 9/11 and ending with… Well, who knows where it ends. All we know is that if it wasn’t for the First Amendment, they’d be getting away with murder right now.

So tomorrow, we celebrate our independence. We celebrate our independence from England, but we should also celebrate our own personal independence. I am thankful for all those who had the courage to stand tall so that I could write this today without fear of someone knocking on my door in the middle of the night (although I do see that an ever-increasing number of visitors to this site are arriving from US Government IP addresses — hello there).