Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Molly Ivins on D.C. Dems

Published in the March 2006 issue of The Progressive
Enough of the D.C. Dems
by Molly Ivins

Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don’t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.
I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight.
Look at their reaction to this Abramoff scandal. They’re talking about “a lobby reform package.” We don’t need a lobby reform package, you dimwits, we need full public financing of campaigns, and every single one of you who spends half your time whoring after special interest contributions knows it. The Abramoff scandal is a once in a lifetime gift—a perfect lesson on what’s wrong with the system being laid out for people to see. Run with it, don’t mess around with little patches, and fix the system.
As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:
Iraq is making terrorism worse; it’s a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.
Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.
Single-payer health insurance.
Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, “unpatriotic” by a bunch of rightwingers.
Take “unpatriotic” and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? “Unpatriotic”? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.
This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.
Who are these idiots talking about Warner of Virginia? Being anodyne is not sufficient qualification for being President. And if there’s nobody in Washington and we can’t find a Democratic governor, let’s run Bill Moyers, or Oprah, or some university president with ethics and charisma.
What happens now is not up to the has-beens in Washington who run this party. It is up to us. So let’s get off our butts and start building a progressive movement that can block the nomination of Hillary Clinton or any other candidate who supposedly has “all the money sewed up.”
I am tired of having the party nomination decided before the first primary vote is cast, tired of having the party beholden to the same old Establishment money.
We can raise our own money on the Internet, and we know it. Howard Dean raised $42 million, largely on the web, with a late start when he was running for President, and that ain’t chicken feed. If we double it, it gives us the lock on the nomination. So let’s go find a good candidate early and organize the shit out of our side.
Molly Ivins writes in this space every month. Her latest book is “Who Let the Dogs In?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Russ Feingold's censure proposition shows he may be the Dems' best candidate for the White House in '08

Russ Feingold (D-Wis) is one Democrat who isn't afraid to tell the emperor he doesn't have any clothes on. Feingold proposed a censure on the president-select, which is viewed by many as a really bold move. What is really needed is impeachment, but this step taken by Feingold is a step that no other democrat in the senate has dared to take. This move is merely a slap on the wrist but I welcome it, in fact I applaud it. This act will not go unnoticed among the millions of true Democrats who have watched their party develop collective larangitis and permit the Republicans to ruin the country. I advise both Democrats and even moderate Republicans (if there is still such a thing) to call your senators now and ask them to support Russ Feingold's proposition for censure. There has never been a president more worthy of this kind of action. Bush's subversive use of the NSA to wiretap US citizens is an impeachable act. More Democrats should be actively supporting Feingold, especially when you keep in mind Bill Clinton was impeached for a far less criminal act. Are Democrats (especially DLC Democrats) afraid that they may be viewed as being "unpatriotic"? The president-select's poll numbers are in the toilet. What is there to be afraid of? Feingold was NEVER fooled. He was the only US Senator to oppose giving Bush extraordinary aggressive powers to invade Iraq. Every American should be asking himself (or herself) why was Feingold the ONLY one to see through Bush? At this early date I haven't endorsed any candidate for the Democratic nomination, but at this point Russ Feingold is looking very good. Today Joe Biden said that now he supports sending the troops back home from Iraq. I am glad to hear him say this. Hillary Clinton has yet to say this, Russ Feingold said it a long time ago. If Biden had said this previously I could say that he has insight and was forward thinking, but Feingold said we never should have gone there to begin with. Biden is making his statement when Bush has the support of only 35% of the American people. For a long time now there has been concern about the backbone of the Democratic party. Democrats on the whole have been outmanuovered and always to willing to compromise and in many cases vote against wishes of the people who sent them to Congress in the first place. John Conyers of Michigan continues his courageous quest for impeachment hearings but as of 3/14/06 he only has 30 of 202 possible Democratic votes for impeachment. The time has come to replace both Republicans and many Democrats in Congress, both need to be replaced by pro-active progressive Democrats who put the interests of the people before the interests of corporations and religious fanatics. Russ Feingold seems to represent a good step in the correct direction.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

US Troop tactics cause British SAS soldier to quit Iraq

This article written by Sean Rayment for The Sunday March 12, 2006 issue of The Telegraph UK. It's original title was "Soldier Quits Army in Disgust at 'Illegal' American Tactics in Iraq

An SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces.
After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces.
He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human.
The decision marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into combat and quit the Army on moral grounds.
It immediately brought to an end Mr Griffin's exemplary, eight-year career in which he also served with the Parachute Regiment, taking part in operations in Northern Ireland, Macedonia and Afghanistan.
But it will also embarrass the Government and have a potentially profound impact on cases of other soldiers who have refused to fight.
On Wednesday, the pre-trial hearing will begin into the court martial of Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a Royal Air Force doctor who has refused to return to Iraq for a third tour of duty on the grounds that the war is illegal. Mr Griffin's allegations came as the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, visiting Basra yesterday, admitted that Iraq was now "a mess".
Mr Griffin, 28, who spent two years with the SAS, said the American military's "gung-ho and trigger happy mentality" and tactics had completely undermined any chance of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi population. He added that many innocent civilians were arrested in night-time raids and interrogated by American soldiers, imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, or handed over to the Iraqi authorities and "most probably" tortured.
Mr Griffin eventually told SAS commanders at Hereford that he could not take part in a war which he regarded as "illegal".
He added that he now believed that the Prime Minister and the Government had repeatedly "lied" over the war's conduct.
"I did not join the British Army to conduct American foreign policy," he said. He expected to be labelled a coward and to face a court martial and imprisonment after making what "the most difficult decision of my life" last March.
Instead, he was discharged with a testimonial describing him as a "balanced, honest, loyal and determined individual who possesses the strength of character to have the courage of his convictions".
Last night Patrick Mercer, the shadow minister for homeland security, said: "Trooper Griffin is a highly experienced soldier. This makes his decision particularly disturbing and his views and opinions must be listened to by the Government."
The MoD declined to comment.

Will Preval prevail?

Rene Preval has been elected president of Haiti with over 80 percent of the popular vote. He even won in many strongholds of his opponents. There have been numerous complaints of foul play by the opposition, many unsubstantiated claims of voting irregularities yet Preval prevailed as the true choice of the people of Haiti. This victory is a bittersweet one because the Haitian government has been redesigned so that the person who really has the power is the one chosen by parliament to be the Prime Minister. As of this date 3/12/06 a Prime Minister has not been chosen. France, Canada, The United Nations and of course The Bush Administration of The United States have collaborated to thwart true democracy in Haiti. It is a proven fact that the true leader of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristides was overthrown in a U.S. designed coup d'etat which Mr. Bush denies to this day, but the facts once again show him to be a liar. It comes as no surprise that this administration would be involved in the internal affairs of another nation. We see what has happened in Iraq. It is no surprise either to see that France is involved in the overthrow of the legitimately elected Aristides because prior to the coup sentiment was strong to demand reparations from France, since it was that nation who was responsible primarily for the devastation of Haitian soil. But Canada has long had the reputation of being a peaceful country. The only explanation I can come up with is perhaps because now in Canada conservatives are in power. I also have no idea why Brasil and Chile would send troops to Haiti to supress the will of the masses of Haitian people. Although Rene Preval won the election, the election itself must be suspect because it took place under the auspices of The United States. The American press doesn't touch the topic of Haiti, so as a result the majority of Americans know nothing or close to nothing about the coup. If anything is reported in the American press it is usually a denial of US participation in the coup and a presentation of Aristides as being an evil dictator. The Haitian people however appear to be as determined as ever to determine their own destiny in spite of the return of the despised Tonton Macoutes, which enjoys US government support. It is a shame that an administration that is so quick to use the words "freedom" and "democracy" has done everything in its power to suppress those ideals in Haiti. The authenticity of the new Haitian "democracy" will be evident when we see the first clash between Preval and the Prime Minister.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Claude Allen arrested in Maryland

One of the few high profile African-Americans in the Bush administration Claude Allen has been arrested in Maryland for receiving stolen property. Allen is another family values hypocrit who was Karl Rove's enforcer in his battles against the HHS. It seems unusual that conservatives who are so quick to say that they work for what they get are so often entangled in deceptive financial policy. Claude Allen, like Clarence Thomas, like Armstrong Williams are perceived by a large segment of black America as prominent individuals who are not working in the best interests of people of African descent here in the U.S and abroad. Allen was an advocate of the movement to replace science based sex education with abstinence only programs which have been dismal failures wherever they have been instituted. Allen played a major role in the destruction of the Centers for Disease Control, eliminated safe-sex materials from their websites and other educational materials. One of Louisiana's federally funded abstinance programs said that condoms don't work in preventing the spread of aids while handing out bibles. This black conservative also staged anti-abortion prayer rallies outside women's clinics. He repeatedly persecuted successful Aids Programs that encouraged condom use. This is yet another example of a member of the ethically challenged Bush administration having problems with the law. Claude Allen represents the new black leadership Bush wanted to promote. It appears as if this black conservative bible-toting homophobe is a theif who may be headed to jail. The list of names gets longer and longer...Rove, Libby, Frist, Abramoff, Noe, Taft, Williams, Delay, Cunningham and now Allen.

Friday, March 10, 2006

More Claims of Disenfranchisement with Cuellar-Rodriguez election in Texas; Once again Dems silent

Three powerful Bush allies in the democratic party are Lieberman (a.k.a. Mr. DLC), Ford and Cuellar, the latter has just been re-elected in Texas in an election in which once again there were allegations of foul play. This should have been something real Democrats should be fuming about, but I haven't heard anything. This is precisely why I am concerned about who will become the Democratic party's nominee in 2008. There is an army of lobbyists representing the insurance companies, the oil companies, the gun manufacturers and the pharmaceuticals. Republicans need the cash that these companies provide and so do the Democrats. As a result we have politicians on both sides of the aisle who are doing the bidding of these companies and now we still don't have a national health care plan, seniors are more confused than ever about prescription plans and the recent bankruptcy law makes it almost impossible the middle income wage earner to declare bankruptcy. Republicans have been given a free ride mainly because Democrats have not been acting like an opposition party. The horrendous patriot act sails through Congress, the food industry's bid to remove content information labeling from their products, just passed through the house. Bush has packed the Supreme Court with ultra-conservatives like Sam Alito, completely ignoring their powerful weapon......the filibuster. Bush has stolen two presidential elections and with the exception of John Conyers and a handful of others MOST Democrats say NOTHING! It really doesn't make if the grassroots Democrats (who numerically dominate the party) are ready willing and able to do battle against Bush initiatives if you have Democrats like Lieberman, Ford and Cuellar who are in positions of influence working for the Republicans. Senator Schumer's (D- N.Y) refusal to back Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett in Ohio* shows us that something is terribly wrong. Of the Democrats who are potential candidates for the presidency almost all of them support the war in Iraq. They don't do it enthusiastically, but nevertheless they do it. They refuse to give up the notion that they have to run towards the right. They are still afraid of being perceived as "un patriotic" Mark Warner has so many positions that embrace Republicanism that should be a Republican. Hillary Clinton is still a card carrying member of the DLC. Joe Biden doesn't criticize the war. He criticizes the way Bush is running the war. So even with the plethera of Republican misshaps the Democrats are still silent. You can't impeach Bush unless you have Democrats who have the "intestinal fortitude" to do so. If they are not willing to speak out against the alleged Cuellar-Rodriguez voter disenfranchisement, nor the Bush-Kerry voter disenfranchisement, nor the Bush-Gore voter disenfranchisement, what makes you think they will be victorius in 2008?

*Special thanks to "Anonymous" who noticed that I had originally written Arkansas instead of Ohio

Gordon Parks 1913-2006

It is with great sadness that this site acknowledges the passing of Gordon Parks Sr., a true renaissance man and role model who passed away earlier this week at the age of 93. Parks was a man who excelled in so many areas. He was Life magazine's award winning photographer/journalist from 1958 to 1968. His photos showed the world the painful effects of segregation in the south in the 60s. Parks' film "The Learning Tree" brought him critical acclaim, then in 1971 Parks produced the groundbreaking film "Shaft" , which featured an African-American private detective as confident, self-reliant and in charge. This box office smash helped revive a then slumping MGM. Coincidentally later that year Parks' son Gordon Parks Jr. (who was not blessed with his father's longevity) produced "Super Fly" about a smart young man using the drug business to insure his future. Gordon Parks Sr. was also an accomplished composer whose composition "Don't Misunderstand" recorded by the late O.C. Smith was featured in 1973 film "Shaft's Big Score" As an author Parks' short stories like "Flavio's Home" exposed the painful realities of poverty that Parks spent a lifetime attacking wherever he came across it(in this particular case, the favelas of Brasil). Gordon Parks will be remembered as a man who lived a miraculously productive long life and made every second count.