Category Archives: reality

Friday: Realistic Expectations, Going to My Happy Place

We Are the Future

We Are The Future

As the inability of President Obama and the Democrats to direct the national dialogue over the economy grows, I believe that I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that the American two-party political process has become completely irrelevant as an instrument of change. The corporate interests will no longer permit a person like FDR, LBJ, JFK or Bill Clinton to be elected to the presidency of our great country. After the past eight years of Bush’s deregulation, massive tax cuts, endless feeding of the military-industrial complex with constant and unnecessary wars and crony capitalism, the Powers-That-Be are far too entrenched to allow any leader to derail their gravy trains.

The patriarchy, the plutocracy, whatever you want to call it – it’s still in charge and will protect itself at all costs; and that problem is never going to go away unless we start electing more women to higher office. Women think differently, speak differently, interact differently and legislate differently, no matter what party they align themselves with. We women are the hope of our nation and of the world – an unexplored and underexploited resource that is being ignored, as Riverdaughter says, at great cost. (I’ll have a post on Sunday that explores an example of this process happening right now.  The 30% Solution really does work. Really!)

In the meantime, I will try to savor the little victories like the expansion of SCHIP passing, and the international community’s joy at the prospect of Hillary Clinton’s leadership at the State Department, while knowing that the larger victories are some time away. I’ll continue to hold the Dems and Repubs accountable for their unwillingness to do what’s right for America, without being too disappointed when they meet my lowered expectations. And I’ll try find something beautiful and good to concentrate on – a lovely piece of music, a phone call from a friend, a hug from my spouse, the savor of a good book, a “well-done” at work.  

This too shall pass.

My Letter To Harry Reid

Hint, hint.


Dear Senator Reid,

I am extremely disappointed that you would wish to circumvent Senator Dodd’s hold on the reprehensible Senate version of the FISA bill. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the telecom companies be given immunity for their lawbreaking actions. Senator Dodd is right and you are simply wrong on this issue.

The American people do not like lawbreakers. By giving Bush what he wants in this bill, you are directly sanctioning lawbreaking. Is that truly the position you want the Democratic leadership to take?

Thank you,

madamab

Seriously, Harry. RULE OF LAW. Ring any bells for ya?

I’m really tired of this crap from our leadership. We need more people like Chris Dodd…and like Representative Pete Stark from California. WOW.

Of course, the pundits are clutching their pearls about Pete Stark’s remarks. On Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, Dana Milbank opined that Stark should apologize. Why? Because President Bush “is a person and obviously does not enjoy killing people.”

On top of the evidence in the link above, I would like to point to Bush’s reputation as the “Texecutioner,” executing 152 people as Governor, and to his mocking of Karla Faye Tucker’s plea for leniency in her death penalty sentencing. Of course, since Bush and his cabal have taken over our government, literally millions of people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not an accident.

No, Stark should not apologize. Like Chris Dodd, he’s finally telling it like it is.

It’s refreshing to hear the truth coming out of Washington, isn’t it?

Blog About the Environment Day!

Most Americans, excepting brainwashed Rushbots, now realize that global warming is real and a crisis. Even the Deciderer has recently dropped his once hard-line stance on the issue. Of course, his idea of taking action comes down to prayer and privatization, as usual. (Heh-heh. Wouldn’t wanna offend Exxon-Mobil!)

Love or hate Al Gore (Run, Al, Run!!!), you have to give him credit for his tireless, decades-long efforts to bring this issue to the forefront of the American mind. But why is it only now, when people can actually see the effects of global warming for themselves – stronger hurricanes, more extreme weather like flooding, early snowfall and tornadoes, hotter average temperatures – that we are finally willing to do something about it?

I’m a little bitter on this subject, because I remember Jimmy Carter’s presidency very well. I was in eighth grade, and my teacher was explaining why the President was putting solar panels on the White House, why there were suddenly lines at the gas station, why we had to turn our thermostats down and use less paper in our homes. This was 1978. 1978! Almost 30 years ago, around the same time Al Gore was beginning his long crusade, Jimmy Carter was trying to lead our country away from endless wars over oil, and towards a more responsible energy policy.

Did Americans listen? No, we did not. We fell for the con game of one of the worst Presidents in history, Ronald Reagan, who told us “Hey, everybody, I know it looks bad now, but if you all just go shopping with these shiny credit cards – like I’ll do! – everything will be fine! You can still have the American dream, and you won’t have to sacrifice a darn thing!” And don’t we just love to think the impossible is true in this country? Don’t we just love to pretend everything is fine and dandy, as Frank Rich wrote so memorably yesterday?

So here we are, after almost 30 years of environmental ostriching, and waddaya know? Jimmy Carter was right! And of course, there’s this guy named Al Gore who just won’t go away, and so sorry, but they don’t usually give out the Nobel Peace Prize to cranks and crackpots (okay, Kissinger was an exception).

As much as the general short-sightedness and laziness of Murkins makes me crazy, we are no different from the rest of the human race. We are simply not built for long-range planning. Most of us feel we shouldn’t act until a crisis is upon us, at which point we go into a flurry of panicked activity. Said activity can be effective – we did, after all, stop using aerosols and DDT – but not nearly as effective as prevention.

We humans have the same tendencies in every area of our lives. One example is our health. We don’t fix our diet and exercise habits until we have heart attacks or strokes; even then, we’d rather be on 14 different prescription medications than change our way of life.

If we are to advance out of our current childlike state, I believe the human race needs to create a new Enlightenment. We need to start looking ahead 30, 50, 200 years and planning for a future we will never see. We need to make peace and global responsibility our new mantras and leave bumper stickers and flag pins behind. We need to give up our selfish short-sightedness and start becoming true stewards of this beautiful Earth we have inherited. Otherwise, we may not survive into the 22nd century – and really, would it be such a great loss?

A Separation of Faith and State

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the insidious replacement of facts with faith in all areas of life, but most harmfully, in politics.

How many times has President Bush said he prays for this or that group of people? Yet our compliant press never questions him further after he invokes his “faith.” Journamalists and pundits even ask politicians if they pray for the troops. What difference could that possibly make? Are the troops less dead because Nancy Pelosi or anyone else prays for them? Are their wounds less grevious, are their hearts less broken, are their families less destroyed? And what about the millions of dead, wounded and displaced Iraqis? Have prayers helped them?

But no one seems to ask those questions – they’re taboo in our current faith-based society. Apparently, professing faith is a magic wand that waves all responsibility away and stops all brains from processing. It’s amazing how none of the traditional media point out that some of the world’s most nefarious politicians claimed to have faith. Hitler comes to mind – not only was he possessed of a terrifying faith in the German myth of the Superman, but he was also insistent on establishing Christianity as the One True Religion.

I am so proud of the founders of our country for putting a firm separation between church and State into the Constitution. But thanks to the far-right Fascist movement that has taken over our discourse, we now need a separation of faith and state.

We have gone so far backwards in our thinking that we have “faith-based initiatives” instead of programs that actually help people with real problems. Prayer can never replace governmental action and responsibility: rebuilding levees and cities destroyed by natural disasters; caring for our sick, our weak and our poor; creating jobs; rebuilding infrastructure; planning for the future of our planet; and on and on.

These feelings are one reason why I am so gung-ho on Al Gore, who wrote a book dealing with this subject. I would like a President who believes in science and facts, not prayer, as solutions to real-world problems.

Would that be so much to ask?

Real Sex Education, For Real People.

I just had to post some good news today. Hooray, Governor Spitzer!


The state has turned down millions of dollars in federal funding for abstinence-only sex-education programs.

State Health Commissioner Richard Daines calls the Bush administration’s abstinence-only Program a failed health care policy that’s based on ideology and not science.

And thank you, Commissioner Daines, for that clear statement.

Let me take his statement one step further: The Bush Administration and its Fascist enablers and true believers don’t want public policy, because really, they don’t believe in the public. They believe in cartoon representations of the public, all of them unflattering.

Let me give an example of what I’m talking about. Bill O’Reilly, one of the most reliable Bush apologists on the planet, made the following incredible statement on the O’Reilly Factor:


Discussing his recent dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia’s, Bill O’Reilly reported that he “couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.”

I would love to hear Bill O’Really explain what he thought was going to happen at Sylvia’s. Body-armor-clad waiters? Scantily-dressed women offering to, um, soap up his loofah? An OTB parlor in the back?

Sadly, ol’ Bill knows his audience. They have no interest in educating themselves about other aspects of American life. All you have to do is go on one of the right-wing websites like FreeRepublic.com and look at the comments. You’ll see nothing but stereotypes masquerading as cultural understanding. “Welfare queens,” “Islamofascists,” “illegal immigrants” (used to cover all brown people, legal or not), “faggots,” “bitches,” etc. etc. etc. A cartoon is so much easier to demonize than a real person, isn’t it?

Well, Governor Spitzer has decided that real people need real sex education. Instead of punishing children and teenagers for their lack of knowledge about health issues, he’s going to inform and educate them instead.

What a difference a Democrat makes…

Will 2008 Be About the Economy, Stupid?

Many opinions exist about what the themes of the 2008 election will be. KKKarl thinks it will definitely NOT be about Iraq. Rudy Giuliani appears to be running on the “King of 9/11″ platform, lately claiming, in an unbelievable display of hubris, that he was at Ground Zero as much as the rescue workers were (apparently, they were only there 29 hours!). But what if George Bush’s disasters in foreign policy and national security are NOT what the American people are most concerned about in 2008? What if it’s, once again, the economy?

Certainly there are signs that the plight of ordinary, non-billionaire people is finally trickling up to Wall Street. (I’ve always thought that economic indicators trickle up, not down, but then, I’ve got a degree in French and Music, so what do I know?)

Specifically, the practice of predatory lending reached epic proportions in the heady days when Alan Greenspan lowered the federal interest rate to .5% to protect his boy Bush from the consequences of cutting taxes in a time of war. Mortgage companies, seeing that people could not afford to live where they wanted and needed to, took advantage of human greed and lack of education about financing, and approved them for mortgages that could not be paid after the balloon payment, or after the Fed raised interest rates for the umpteenth time to stave off inflation, or many other variations on the same theme.

Unfortunately, even greedier banks bought these “sub-prime” mortgages, and expected that the loans were reality-based. They weren’t, and the reverberations are being felt throughout the country.

From Raw Story:

Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. says customers are “running out of money.”

Earlier this week, consumer juggernauts Home Depot and Wal-Mart reported softer than expected earnings.

[snip]

In Los Angeles, economic concerns hit close to home.

Anxious customers of Countrywide Bank jammed its phone lines, branches and website after the nation’s largest mortgage lender — which owns the bank — announced it was facing problems from a credit meltdown.

“Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest home-loan company in the nation, sought Thursday to assure depositors and the financial industry that both it and its bank were fiscally stable,” wrote the LA Times Friday. “And federal regulators said they weren’t alarmed by the volume of withdrawals from the bank.”

“The rush to withdraw money — by depositors that included a former Los Angeles Kings star hockey player and an executive of a rival home-loan company — came a day after fears arose that Countrywide Financial could file for bankruptcy protection because of a worsening credit crunch stemming from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown,” the paper continued.

“At Countrywide Bank offices, in a scene rare since the U.S. savings-and-loan crisis ended in the early ’90s, so many people showed up to take out some or all of their money that in some cases they had to leave their names,” the Times added. “Bill Ashmore drove his Porsche Cayenne to Countrywide’s Laguna Niguel office and waited half an hour to cash out $500,000, which he then wired to an account at Bank of America.”

“It’s because of the fear of the bankruptcy,” Ashmore, president of Irvine’s Impac Mortgage Holdings, which escaped bankruptcy itself recently by shutting down virtually all its lending and laying off hundreds of employees told the paper. “It’s got my wife totally freaked out. I just don’t want to deal with it. I don’t care about losing 90 days’ interest, I don’t care if it’s FDIC-insured — I just want it out.”

I believe that by the time the Presidential election rolls around, we will be drawing down our forces from Iraq already. Certainly the surge cannot continue at its present levels past April 2008 without serious risk of breaking the Army altogether. And we know that the House has already passed a bill that echoes that deadline, although it requires the troops to be almost completely gone from Iraq by then.

Even if Bush can hold the line until he leaves office, the American people know that every Democrat running has promised to get us out of that quagmire. So really, Iraq may not be the issue in 2008.

As for national security issues, Americans are already favoring Democrats over Republics. After all, 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch, and it’s quite obvious that his approach to keeping us safe – the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war – is not working in any way, shape or form. Where’s Osama bin Laden again?

Yes, it seems very likely that the Clintonian wisdom of the 90’s will come into play once again in 2008, but this time with a twist. Maybe this time, Republics will vote their interests, instead of blindly following whomever shouts the loudest about God, Guns and Gays. Maybe America has woken up to the fact that Republics cannot be trusted with their money. And maybe we will finally realize that when we can’t put food on the table, when we’re working three jobs (“uniquely American!”) and never see our families, when we are losing our homes and our health due to unregulated corporate malfeasance and greed…then we cannot be a free society.

Maybe it really is…The Economy, Stupid.

Disgrace

I’m just sick about what’s finally coming out about the death of Pat Tillman. Turns out that “friendly fire” might be a pseudonym for “murder”.

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Of course, the death of a man like Pat Tillman, whether an accident or murder, did not fit into the carefully constructed, media-ready narrative of the football hero who gave up money and fame to volunteer in Afghanistan, then died heroically while fighting off Osama bin Laden and 500 Al Qaeda soldiers armed with rocket launchers. (A little snark there.) The Bush Administration wanted heroes to inspire war support, so it did what it always does when it doesn’t like reality – it created its own real-ish reality.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman’s death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

I read a Stephen King book once where he described evil as basically unimaginative. It keeps coming back, in various forms, but when it appears, it always proceeds the same way. That’s how you can tell it’s evil – it never grows, it never changes, and of course, what results from its actions is ultimately horror and death.

Remind you of anyone?