Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reshuffling the deck chairs on the National Review cruise

From a The New Republic article... a TNR journalist sails with the conservatives from the National Review... and asks a few questions:

Reshuffling the deck chairs on the National Review cruise: "And, one morning on the deck, I discover Kenneth Starr, looking like he has stepped out of a long-forgotten 1990s newsreel. His face is round and unlined, like that of an immense, contented baby. As I stare at it, all my repressed bewilderment rises, and I ask: Mr. Starr, do you feel ashamed that, while Osama bin Laden was plotting to murder nearly 3,000 American citizens, you brought the government to a standstill over a few consensual blow-jobs?

He smiles through his teeth and says, in his soft, somnambulant voice, 'I am entirely at rest with the process. The House of Representatives worked its will, the Senate worked its will, the chief justice of the United States presided. The constitutional process worked admirably.' It's an oddly meek defense, and, the more I challenge him, the more legalistic he becomes, each answer a variation on, 'It wasn't my fault.'"

This is puritanism in its purest form: concerned about "sin" while the real issues that cause pain and suffering in our world -- the real world -- are ignored.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Is this where we are headed?

A divided Supreme Court on Monday curtailed free-speech rights for students, ruling against a teenager who unfurled a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" because the message could be interpreted as promoting drug use.

In its first major decision on student free-speech rights in nearly 20 years, the high court's conservative majority ruled that a high school principal did not violate the student's rights by confiscating the banner and suspending him.

The decision marked a continuing shift to the right by the court since President George W. Bush appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
What the hell could these people possibly be thinking? Who cares if it is promoting drugs, sex or any other subject these bozo's (or you or I for that matter) don't agree with.

The entire point of "free speech" is that the government and authorities have NO RIGHT to shut-you-up simply because they don't agree with what you are saying.

This is as un-American as it gets folks... If you haven't already, WAKE UP and smell the fascists in power. Do something -- get these people out of OUR government.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cheney subverts other opinions and input

The VP simply uses his office/power to ensure his course of action is the one the president sees and likely approves. Other input, whether from the Justice dept, State dept or from the cabinet, is undermined and discounted even before it is heard.This isn't 'government': its rule by fiat.

read more | digg story

Friday, June 22, 2007

High Lord Cheney - above the law

Amazing... just sticking to the facts:

  1. President Bush signs EXECUTIVE ORDER 13292 -- FURTHER AMENDMENT TO EXECUTIVE ORDER 12958 -- CLASSIFIED NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION. The order regulates the handling, classification and declassification of national security information.
  2. VP Cheney's office refuses to comply with requests from the National Archives and Records Administration for information related to the executive order. The NA is the body responsible for carrying out the executive order.
  3. Further, Cheney's office tries to abolish the office that sought to enforce those rules -- a rule just amended/put-in-place by his boss.
His defense? -- "I'm not part of the executive branch"... an argument that is more arcanely legalistic than I've yet heard coming out of this administration.

(Funny, that the VP should rely on an obscure, most likely fallacious, argument to defend his actions while those the administration imprisons in Guantanamo don't even get to challenge there incarceration in court.)

The use of secrecy in governance is the most dangerous behavior this administration -- and this person in particular -- exhibits. Government in a democracy is accomplished via the consent of the governed. How can that occur when the leaders deny their accountability to the governed?

This man should not only be removed from office -- he should be exiled. He obviously doesn't know what it means to live in a representative democracy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Try to Level the Playing Field...

A capitalist economy necessarily generates financial winners and losers. But in an economy where the discrepancy between a winner and the "average wage earner" continues to grow out of control -- well, it's time for policy to step in.

No economic system is perfect... and to believe capitalism will address all of our social ills is as stupid as waiting for Jesus to come back: neither has strong evidence of occurring.

Take for instance the case of investment bankers, hedge fund managers and the like. Sure, these are professional people who provide a service to the business community. But does that service really warrant billions of dollars of accumulated wealth while the owners pay only a fraction of the taxes that a middle-income wage earner pays?

Most sane people would say no...

An article in the WSJ points out even conservative economists are making this point:
A new argument is emerging among the pro-globalization crowd in the U.S., the folks who see continued globalization and trade as vital to the country's prosperity: Tax the rich more heavily to thwart an economically crippling political backlash against trade prompted by workers who see themselves -- with some justification -- as losers from globalization.

The sharpest articulation of this view comes from ... Matthew Slaughter, who recently left President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers to return to Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.

The recent widening of the gap between economic winners and losers is "entirely without precedent in the postwar period," Lawrence Summers, the former U.S. Treasury secretary and Harvard president, said at a Washington forum this week."Individuals are asking themselves, 'Is globalization good for me?' and in a growing number of cases, arriving at the conclusion that it is not," ...
How can a society justify an average educator's salary of around $48,000 a year, while someone who runs a investment banking firm pays 15% taxes while accumulating 7 BILLION in assets?

To argue that "the market bears the expense" is not an argument at all. The question isn't what the market will pay for a service, but what value does that service bring to society. While I don't argue for a command economy, there must be some sane system of incentives (e.g. - taxes and tax breaks) that help to steer the economic ship in a reasonable direction.

If not, we'll simply continue down the path of the haves vs the have-nots... Where people who provide critical services (water, sewer, garbage collection) are paid subsistence wages while those who skim off the financial markets (adding nothing of value to the process) live like the aristocrats of old.

When it gets ugly enough: when the society is completely stratified with an upper class of billionaire parents leaving riches to children who perpetuate a plutocracy -- people may finally wake up and realize no abstract economic theory in and of itself provides for economic social justice.

Society and the economy require pragmatic management... Not "control", but management. Capitalism in and of itself will lead to a tyranny as sure as despotism. Governments may not always take the right actions in regard to economic policy -- in fact, some actions may make things worse -- but a laissez faire is sure to destroy our country.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ritter on the abdication of the citizenry...

What's wrong with America that we can elect and support a charlatan like Bush for 6+ years? Ritter's comments are right on: we've become a nation fascinated with consumerism -- to the exclusion of almost all else.

read more | digg story

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bush Officials Used RNC Server for Private E-mails

Bush Officials Used RNC Server for Private E-mails - "Almost 90 White House officials have maintained private e-mail accounts on the server of the Republican National Committee"

"The [House Oversight] committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), has been investigating whether the e-mail accounts run by the RNC and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign committee violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires that every White House official "assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented."

First, the administration has to be performing constitutional duties -- not dismantling it.

Just more evidence this administration doesn't see the office as a public trust -- a job in which the people have the right to know what their government is doing. Instead, its about the secret deal and agenda.

When government ceases to be transparent, we're all in real trouble.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ritter on Liberty

I came across this while reading an article by Scott Ritter - the former UN Weapons Inspector - on TruthDig .

There is no greater breeding ground for the forces of tyranny than the surrender of civic responsibility on the part of those entrusted with the defense of liberty.

I fear not the bloody rebellion of an outraged citizenry, but rather the passive submission of a shameful mass which betrays the cause of liberty and freedom through the abandonment of the Constitution, and the obligations of citizenship derived thereof, in favor of the narcotic of consumerism. Such a mass, foreswearing blind obedience to those who profess how to best construct a cocoon that immerses the occupant in transitory comfort, is the most pressing problem facing America today. In a nation whose defining document begins, "We the People," I find that it is we the people who constitute the greatest threat to the future of America. It is not through the force of our actions, but rather the vacuum created by our inaction and apathy, a vacuum all too readily filled by those who would have us exchange our hard-fought freedoms for a gilded cage of market-driven consumerism.

-- Scott Ritter

So true.

What amazes me most about the situation we find ourselves in -- as Americans -- is how easily the majority is/was duped into sacrificing that which makes us a free people simply by the use of fear-mongering by our leaders.

They are to blame for the fear-mongering... but we're to blame for buying into it.