THE OBAMA DILEMMA

13 07 2008

The Green Party has convened in Chicago, and selected Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente as its Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominees, the first Presidential ticket in US history composed of two women of color. As always, most people will say this  is a bad time to be supporting a third party candidate in the Presidential race.  The Supreme Court hangs in the balance. (as if the Dims did anything to stop Bush’s fascist nominees!) The ecology and the economy hang in the balance.  The country hangs in the balance,  The planet hangs in the balance.  How could I be so stuck on my principles as to allow the possibility of an alte kaker like John McSame getting into the Presidency and running the country four more years down the road to ruin?

It’s true that a certain parallel can be drawn between this election and the 1932 Hoover-Roosevelt contest, with Obama as Roosevelt.  People look back with nostalgia on Roosevelt and say he saved this country, but let’s be honest–what he did was save capitalism from itself.  If Hoover had somehow gotten re-elected (using the modern Republican style, and cheating his ass off), his hands-off attitude towards the economy and social services, coupled with his ham-fisted attitude towards the poor, could easily have led to complete social chaos, and fostered a radical rearrangement of the country that would put us in a whole different context than the one we are now dealing with.  Roosevelt, instead, set us up for the mess we are in now, by smoothing over the inequities and giving people….hope…..you know, Obama’s stock in trade.

The junior Senator from Illinois has further complicated matters lately by staking out a number of conservative positions , initially on questions like late-term abortion and the death penalty, but now on the equally serious FISA bill.  He has apparently voted to give the administration a pass on seriously illegal activities,  He’s said it wasn’t the bill he really wanted, and he’s also said that, as President, he will be reviewing “the constitutionality of all the laws and executive orders passed while Republican President George W. Bush has been in office.”

And, as Keith Olberman points out in an otherwise blistering attack on Obama, the FISA law that was passed provides civil immunity for the telecoms and the Bush junta operatives who violated the law and the Constitution, but not criminal immunity.  In other words, if Obama’s Attorney General wants to investigate this odious episode and arrest the wrongdoers, he will be able to do so.  For that matter, current Attorney General Michael Mukasey could, but don’t hold your breath.

So–is Obama, in a calculated political move, waiting to get elected before dropping that shoe? He’s said he’s against impeachment because of the turmoil it would create.  Is he setting the stage for post-Presidential prosecution?  If that’s his plan, he certainly wouldn’t tip his hand, would he?

It should be clear by now that I am not clear about how to regard Sen. Obama.  I see a lot of red flags, but I also see somebody who is not playing poitics by the old rules, even as, by necessity, he plays with those who do.  I will almost certainly vote for Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney in November, if only to keep hammering away at Democratic resistance to the Green Party–if you Democrats would get on board about instant runoff voting, we wouldn’t have such bipolar politics in this country, y’know?  And I’m not certain that Obama is willing to tell the American public the awful truth about how far out of line we are here in America, let alone what we are going to have to cut loose of in order to get back in line.  It may be better, in the long run, for the country to go down in flames under McCain than to take Obama’s blue pills of hope.  But maybe not.

My expectation is that Obama will win in November, no matter what the Republicans try to throw at him.  Gonna be interesting times, folks.  Stay loose!

music:  Will Kimbrough, Brand New Song

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THE PRESIDENT FROM WONDERLAND

5 04 2006

OK, let me try and get this straight. Mr. Bush has been saying for years that if the government wants to eavesdrop on people, all they have to do is go to a FISA court and get a warrant—and they can even do that after they start bugging someone’s phone, if it’s really dire. And getting a warrant from a FISA court is about like getting a marriage license—they just about don’t turn you down.

And Mr. Bush and his junta (or is it Mr. Cheney and his junta?) have spent a lot of time and energy and, yes “political capital,” as they say, pushing for expansion of the Patriot Act, saying they need the tools it will give them to capture terrorists.

But, when it emerged that our government has been engaging in warrantless wiretapping and, Mr. Gonzalez hints, many other things too secret to mention, we were informed that Mr. Bush, as commander-in-chief of a nation at war, has unlimited power and does not need to abide by any law that impedes his relentless search for terrorists. S

OK, so why all the earlier references to “due process of law”? And why all the energy spent pushing to enlarge what is legally permissible under the Patriot Act? That bill, I tell you—it’s enough to give patriotism a bad name. Well, I think I have an idea why—but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Now Scooter Libby alleges that Mr. Bush, or perhaps Mr. Cheney, with the blessing of Mr. Bush—authorized him to tell reveal classified information to several several reporters, thereby declassifying it . It apparently follows that since Mr. Bush, as Commander-in-Chief, can violate the law with impunity, then Mr. Libby—viola! –is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Mr. Bush said, on numerous occasions, that he didn’t know who in the administration was leaking information, but that whoever had done so would be fired at the very least. Somehow, I don’t think he’s about to fire himself.

During the 2004 campaign, the Bush camp characterized John Kerry as a “flip-flopper” because Mr. Kerry is intellectually honest enough to change his mind when he gets new information, as well as politically sophisticated enough to understand that he isn’t always going to get everything he wants. I disagree with him about many things, but I believe he is fundamentally an honest man.

Mr. Bush’s flip-flops, however, are either dishonest or schizophrenic. To go from “we need warrants and legally expanded powers” to “we don’t need no bleeping warrants and we can do anything we want,” to go from “I don’t know who leaked this information but the leaker will be fired” to “I am the leaker and I say it was OK for me to do it”–these are nonsequiturs worthy of Alice in Wonderland. But this is not Wonderland, this is the United States of America, and Mr. Bush’s conduct has destroyed American credibility, betrayed our intelligence officers, and cost thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis their lives.

His rhetoric of patriotism does not excuse these actions.. A true patriot would not trample the Constitution. A true patriot would not endanger the lives of clandestine Central Intelligence Agency operatives for partisan political purposes. (I don’t like the CIA, but I’m a nonviolent pacifist, dammit—I don’t want anybody to get hurt!). A true patriot would not put our precious younger generation—our armed forces—in harm’s way on the basis of evidence he evidently knew was phony.

George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the entire Republican leadership are guilty of treason, and only their steely, calculated grip on the reins of power—and the timidity of the Democrats—is keeping them from being frogmarched into court. I said earlier that I think I know why Bush lied about his illegal activities up until recently, and here’s my opinion: he was waiting until he felt like he had the Supreme Court stacked in his favor to come out with the truth. Thank you, Democrats, for letting Mussalito and Bob Roberts (remember that movie?) determine the fate of our nation. A special place in hell is waiting for you if you don’t get some spine, real soon.

And Bush and Cheney, Condi and Rummy? I suspect they’ll be reincarnating as tube worms on the edge of some volcanic vent in the deep, dark Pacific for some time to come…but I digress.

I am deeply concerned. If the Republicans can keep the Democrats from taking back the House and Senate this year—and there are enough fools and thieves in this country to make that a possibility—Mr. Bush will have two more years to do damage. Even if the Democrats regain power over the legislative branch of our government, and are not too timid to raise hell, Mr. Bush will still have most of a couple of years before the slow wheels of justice catch up with him. I am concerned that we may wake up one morning to find that our military, tired of being shredded for no good reason, has surrounded the White House and the Capitol and asked for some resignations. That would not be a good way to break this logjam, but if we don’t turn things around fast, it could be our future. And America would never be the same again.

music: Steve Earle, “Jerusalem





DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE

9 02 2006

The United States of America took a giant step towards becoming a totalitarian fascist state this month with the confirmation of Samuel J. “Muss”Alito as a Supreme Court Justice, and now there is an argument over whether another step in that direction—the Bush junta’s domestic surveillance program– should be allowed to stand or whether that might just be too much.

Bush, Cheney, and Gonzalez are taking the rather Orwellian stance that their clear violation of the FISA law is not a violation of the law, because the President can do anything he wants during wartime, and we’re at war—except that we are not, by the way, legally “at war.” The resolution that the Senate Democrats so spinelessly approved gave Mr. Bush permission to use all necessary force to go after Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, but that is not the same as a formal declaration of war any more than a separation agreement is a finalized divorce. The Bushoids are stretching the truth here, and mostly getting away with it. No wonder they think they can act outside the law.

The administration is insisting that it’s only interested in people directly linked to Al Qaeda, but my sense is that this is just like all the pressure to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge–it’s intended to set a precedent which can then be followed with more outrageous demands.

And what’s the state of the Onion? It’s enough to make you cry! Mr. Bush finished his speech with “God Bless America.” I say, “God help America!” This country is cruisin’ for a bruisin’. We had as much right to invade Iraq as the Nazis had to invade Poland, and now all the chickenbleep neocons are working it up for a nice, clean air war against Iran. Whomp that tar baby one more time, Mr. Rumsfeld.

Not only are the cowards in the government outraged about being called to account for their illegal surveillance program, they’re all upset that it was revealed. They say it’s a serious blow to our intelligence effort, and that heads will roll when they find out who leaked it.

Our intelligence services’ intelligence quotient must be pretty low if they think that people in the U.S. (or anywhere else) who are talking to Al Qaeda DON”T assume that their phones are tapped. I mean, what are they expecting to hear? “Hassan, it’s me, Mahdi. Our sleeper cell will be meeting tonight at 8PM at the Public Library. Look, we need to talk to Osama about this bomb we’re building for him. Is he there? Could you put him on the phone? Hey, Osama, baby, how’s it goin’? You’re staying in Brindaban-alQat, eh? Like it there? That little hotel by the wadi, that’s where you’re staying? Yeah, that’s my uncle runs it, tell him his nephew Mahdi sez “hello” and I’ll be thinking of him and all the folks back home when we blow up that refinery at 15th and J streets in Houston next week.”

C’mon, guys, get real, they were on to your surveillance long before the New York Times broke the story. You want to prosecute someone for really screwing up our national security? Then give up the guys who outed Valerie Plame and quit playing hide-and-seek with Fitzgerald. Valerie Plame really was on the front line in the effort to keep dangerous weapons away from dangerous people, and you guys blew her cover and destroyed the network she had created, destroyed a working intelligence effort that was keeping harm from being done, and for what? Because her husband told the truth about your lies. How do you sleep? George? Dick? Don? Condoleeza? How do you sleep?

I don’t know how Senate Democrats can sleep, either, except for 24 of them. Twenty spineless cowards who claim to be Democrats joined with the Republican majority to shut down debate on MussAlito’s nomination. Forget about abortion, forget about his apparent willingness to say what people want to hear in order to get a job. This guy is behind the “Unitary Executive” theory of U.S. government 100%., and the Unitary Executive theory basically throws our whole system of checks and balances out the window and concentrates power in the hands of the President. The Bush junta has succeeded in stacking the Supreme Court. We’re stuck with a pack of relatively young, conservative creeps there for maybe the next thirty years, guys who will uphold the intrusive power of corporations and the U.S. government whether it makes sense or not. Thank you, Senate Democrats—sincerely thank you to the two dozen who tried to stop this, and a big “thanks for nothing!” to the ones who kissed Bush’s ass.

And, by the way, Rahm Emanuel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee, has announced that the committee will not be supporting peace candidates in the 2006 election, in spite of the fact that the war is hugely unpopular, in spite of the fact that a Democratic peace candidate came within a hair of winning a traditionally Republican district in Ohio last year and the war is even less popular this year. The Democrats are putting their money on candidates like Tennessee’s Harold Ford, who wants to throw another 375,000 U.S. troops into Iraq so we can “win.” Harold, I got news—we ain’t got another 375,000 troops, and we have no more right to be in Iraq than the Germans had to be in Poland—how many times do I have to say that before it goes national?

Well, most Democrats are whores—they’ll say and do what they think they must to get elected. The Green Party is a political party that stands for peaceful resolution of disputes, whether it gets us elected or not. And this year, with many Democrats trying to out-hawk Bush on this criminal war, it might just get a bunch of us elected. I’m ready.

music: Laurie Anderson, “The Day the Devil Comes to Get You”








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