Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Destroying the D.C. System of Patronage

This MUST end.

Bill Clinton's gift to the gasping Lieberman campaign in the form a breath of undeserved oxygen, together with Barbara Boxer's appalling campaign assistance, has highlighted something incredibly important:

This is not just the DLC we are fighting.  It's not just the entrenched corporatists on the Democratic side of the aisle.  It's not just the spineless conventional wisdom of bubbled-in D.C. Democrats.

What we're fighting here is nothing less than an entire aristocratic system of patronage--a system that threatens to collapse as the serfs below grow increasingly revolutionary.

It is not corporate money or genuine respect for the issues that drives Barbara Boxer to attempt to rescue Lieberman from his own political suicide.

It is not respect for character or mutual support of failed policies that drives Bill Clinton to perform CPR on the Republicans' favorite Democrat.

It is not personal regard and esteem that drives rank and file establishment Democrats to kiss Lieberman's ring in a grand circle-jerk of endorsements.

In fact, it's pretty obvious what it is: if the serfs can successfully revolt against any ONE of them, then they could potentially revolt against ALL of them.  And who knows where that could lead?  Heck, it could lead to chaos, anarchy, pigs flying, and maybe--just maybe--even DEMOCRACY!  The horror!

So what do they do?  They band together, fearing for their safe, cushy political lives.  Favors are done in return for favors, and old chips are called in.  The Mafia is protecting its own.

We're not just dealing with Joe Lieberman (D-PNAC) here.  You think Joe Biden (D-BofA) isn't quaking in his boots right now?  You think Dianne Feinstein (D-$$) doesn't have this in the back of her mind?  That Jane Harman (D-DoD) isn't petrified by the prospect of future challenges by peace-loving progressives?  I can assure you that they are.


When we send Lamont to the U.S. Senate this November, we will not have struck a blow just at the DLC.  We won't have simply sent a message to the Democratic establishment that pro-Bush rhetoric and backstabbing will not be tolerated.

We will have done nothing short of put fear into the hearts of every one of these Democrats that we are watching.  And that we won't tolerate spineless, corrupt and kowtowing Democratic politics as usual anymore.

But more important than that is this: when Lamont defeats Lieberman this August and again this November, we will have defeated the entire Mafioso system of entrenched Democratic backscratching patronage.  And that's critically important, because every time they scratch each other on the back, they stab the American people in the back as well.

We will have proved, in short, that there's nothing they can really do to stop a people-powered progressive movement.

They can bring in the Big Dog.  They can call in all the chips.  They can spend all the money they want.  But it won't stop us--and certainly not is a deep blue state whose hearts and mind brim full of progressive patriotism.


In short, my fellow progressives, we will not have brought down just single corrupt man (Lieberman), or even an antiquated organization going the way of the dodo (the DLC).

We will have shaken the very foundations of a corrupt, Mafia-like system of political patronage that conspires to strangle Democracy and progressive politics in this great nation--and that, through its weakness, indirectly maintains Republican electoral advantages.

So get to work, folks.  If you can make it to Connecticut to volunteer, GO.  If you can spare any money, GIVE.

See to it that we make this happen; because it's even more important than you know.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Faithless: The REPUBLICAN War on Faith

Republicans like to talk a lot about faith.  In their incessant pandering to the insatiable beast that is the religious right, the word "faith" tends to come up in Republican discourse with the depressing inevitability of an unwanted season.  And even our politicians have fallen into the trap of talking about this ill-defined word "faith".

Well, there's a reason for that.  In keeping with the typical Rovian strategy of taking one's greatest weaknesses and attempting to convert them into one's greatest strengths, these deplorable criminals must talk about their "faith" because they have singlehandedly created the most faithless administration in American history.

Indeed, they demand a conversation about Faith.  They demand the conversation so that they can frame the very word Faith in their own terms.  The right wing demands that when you hear the word "Faith", that you think only about its singular definition as "Belief that does not require Logic."  But that's only ONE definition of the word.  The other definition--the one that is political death to them if it is brought into the open--is this:

Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.

The truth is that they demand a universal faith in things that cannot be proven because they have utterly destroyed--through methodical, evil planning--the people's faith in the United States of America and its government.  They have attempted to renege on every decent contract between this government and its citizens--leaving them only with God to rely on for their well-being.

Examples of this are numerous, but the most poignant to me is occurring as we speak.

I cannot find this story on the Internet as yet, but I was listening to NPR on my way to work on a research project this morning when they were discussing the State Department's plan to force Americans being evacuated from Lebanon to reimburse the government for the costs of their evacuation.  Question and answer session followed, in which callers could tell the station whether or not they supported this plan.  I called the station in a rage, and was placed on the air during question and answer, where I stated the obvious:

"You know," I said, "A U.S. passport is a contract between an American citizen and the Secretary of State of the United States.  It is a guarantee that the United States will vouchsafe the safety and security of its citizens overseas.  And if the United States can spend $6 billion a month of the taxpayers' money in Iraq on a war which, if anything, violated a contract between this government and its people, then the State Department can surely spend a minimal amount of taxpayer money to honor its contract with American citizens.

The station host, taken a little aback, then asked me whether I thought that the State Department would therefore be more stringent in issuing its advisories to Americans overseas in order to save taxpayers money in the event of possible evacuations.  To which I responded:

You know what? That may be a concern, but only in an immoral administration.  Since this country's taxpayers can spend $6 billion a month on an unnecessary military action that only inflames tensions in the region, then we have seriously misplaced priorities if the State Department, already the victim of major budget cuts, considers reneging on its contractual obligations to its citizens overseas.

That's really the key.  This Republican administration has shown itself completely willing to dispense with its reputation and the trust of its citizens in order to save mere pennies, while they spend fortunes propping up their favorite corporate contributors.  They work nonstop, every day, to destroy our faith in the United States itself:

And this, fundamentally, is the fruit of Republican policy: American citizens in Lebanon will no longer be able to have faith in the United States of America--but they are perfectly free to pray to God for their continued safety in the wake of their government's abandonment.  We are, in other words, in the Dark Night of the American Soul.


And it's not the first time.

Bush committed one of his many impeachable offenses by questioning the Full Faith and Credit of the United States by telling Americans that Social Security monies were "just IOUs" in a safe.  In other words, Bush said, don't trust in the United States.  Don't put faith in that greenback in your wallet.  If you want to eat something besides cat food in your declining years, go pray to God.  But don't come knocking on my door, because your president and your government won't be home.

He showed the American people that their faith in United States Emergency Services could not be counted on in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  When the earthquakes and the floods come, America, don't have faith in your government; it won't be there.  Instead, as you sit stranded on your sinking rooftop or under the broken freeway overpass, pray to God instead, because your faith in anything else is misplaced.

He has shown our soldiers, as Michael Moore pointed out, that they cannot rely on the good faith of their civilian leadership to send them to battle only when necessary to defend their country.  And he has demonstrated to our brave servicemen and servicewomen that they cannot have faith in their government to supply them with adequate vehicle and body armor: instead, as they drive down that IED-laden road, they must look solely to their God to keep them safe.

He has shown our children that they cannot have faith in the education system, because the government will not fund it.  Instead, they must insert prayers into the pledge of allegiance, and read the Ten Commandments in their classrooms, because God is all that stands between them and a future of ignorance and poverty.


These are the wages of Republican sin: the perversion of faith, and destruction of that confidence in the American system of governance on which we have come to depend.  

When Republicans talk of faith, they talk of faith in things that cannot be seen or touched--because everything they see and touch turns to rot and ruin.

It's time to remove the faithless bastards from office, and restore REAL faith--faith in America.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Is Bush Telling Cheney to Go F*$# Himself?

First it was the End of Cowboy Diplomacy, and the ascendancy of diplomacy in dealing with Iran--leaving Sy Hersch with some egg on his face.

Then it was the Bush Administration failing to act on their usual grandstanding and beliigerence to the other branches of government by actually reversing their ground on detainees after the Hamdan decision--not just for those at Gitmo, but also for those at CIA prisons worldwide.

And now the third blow in less than a week: The end of unconditional Halliburton contracts in Iraq, and the divvying up up contracting duties to no less than three independent, audited, competing contractors.

These are three pieces of shockingly good news that should take us all aback.  I haven't seen this administration go this much on the defensive and actually reconcile themselves to somewhat saner versions of hare-brained policies in the six years since I've been watching them.

And there can be only one reason for this in my mind: a deep and personal rift between President Bush and V.P. Cheney that has now moved into actual policy considerations.

For the record, I have never believed that Bush was evil to the core.  I believe he is an arrogant and totally-out-of-touch rich frat-boy.  I believe that he is a deeply insecure and spiteful man.  I believe he is a sociopath without human compassion.

But at heart, I think he's a privileged little brat who has had everything done for him all his life, and who still thinks he's a big kid--and who's in a job that's WAY too big for him.

Cheney, on the other hand, is an evil bastard.  Cheney is a man who, as John Edwards pointed out, voted against meals on wheels and the MLK, Jr. holiday.  He's a man who calculated his college attendance, marriage, and even his wife's pregnancy to exactly coincide with draft deferrals from Vietnam.  He's a man who was on the inside of the Nixon administration, and felt that Nixon was wronged.

And these policies that are being reversed are Cheney's pet policies.

As many journalists and bloggers have pointed out, the Gitmo detainee policy has been Cheney's brainchild and pet issue.  It is Cheney who insisted on the Gitmo policy; Cheney who lashed out at Democrats and the press over torture; Cheney who first and most violently claimed that CIA prisons and extraordinary rendition were absolutely necessary.  Bush's defenses of these policies have, by contrast, seemed tepid, petulant and annoyed by comparison.

Interestingly, they have by contrast NOT stood down on the NSA spying after Hamdan.  I believe that's because the NSA spying program was more Bush's idea than Cheney's--and that Bush personally stands to lose a great deal politically (possibly even impeachment) by backing down on it.

And Iran?  Remember that it was CHENEY who was a member of PNAC.  It is Cheney who wants to nuke Iran.  Bush have been gung-ho to attack Iraq for on account of various personal demons, corporate allegiances and bad advice, but I doubt very much that Bush has any personal incentive to attack Iran.  Bush isn't PNAC, and it's rumored that Bush highly resents his PNAC advisors for their bullshit lies about how the post-war occupation would turn out.

And Halliburton?  This is not only the corporation that Cheney used to run and with whom he still has ties, but it's the corporation that continues to line Cheney's pockets.  What else can we surmise from a move to hamstring Cheney's favorite little corporation?  I doubt very much that the move is to save face politically, since Halliburton's horrible misdeeds in Iraq have not exactly been in the news lately.  What about the character of this administration over the last six years would lead us to believe that they would make this move out of the kindness of their own hearts?


No, my friends.  Something very deep is at work here.  Strange events have been taking place--strange events that would bespeak, for this first time, a shred of sanity in this administration.

And every piece of unexpected good news comes at the price of a policy very near and dear to Cheney's heart.

My suspicion is that little boy Bush has seen the political handwriting on the wall, and told Cheney to go fuck himself in none too equivocal terms.  I could be wrong, but that's what my objective analysis tells me.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

America's Family Crisis: Another GOP Gift

"When you have kids, you'll understand."

It's one of the oldest and most infuriating arguments made by "family values" Republicans to young Democrats like myself in order to justify their homophobia and race-baiting.  I've heard this disgusting drivel from friends, acquaintances, and even my own relatives.  They ply this line with that tired air of knowing condescension which is supposedly the realm of the liberal elite--a paternalistic smear on the maturity of silly uneducated children who just don't know any better.

There are so many things one can say in response to this ridiculous drivel, but my favorite line of response is that it's the people with children who should understand better than anyone.  "Family Values" are being destroyed left and right by Republican corporatist policy.  

And there's a new study coming out of UCLA to give that idea further credence.

The new article Fractured Family: Struggle and Stress Threaten Today's Home really says it all.  A team of UCLA researchers headed by UCLA anthropology professor Elinor Ochs set out to do an in-depth study of 32 Los Angeles households.  The families were videotaped, their homes measured out, pictures taken, and even saliva samples taken to measure stress levels.  The findings were sadly predictable:

The question to be answered here was basic: How was this particular pack of two-legged animals doing?  With both parents working "and working a lot," says Ochs, "how do families manage?"

The answer seems to be "not so well."...Finding suggest that family life endures in the 21st century, but it's different than it used to be, and neither our social institutions nor our expectations and fantasies ahve adapted.  The result is struggle and stress.

And what about those who would say that we should just go back the "good old days" of Leave It To Beaver?  What about the conservatives who, when asked what they are actually conserving, point to the 1950's family?

No one who seriously studies the family would suggest we look to the overly romanticized historical blip that was the 1950s for an archetype, but even those with a long-term perspective agree that the family has changed enormously of late.

The article goes on to mention the decline of arranged marriages starting in the 19th century, and the entrance of women into the workforce beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, as the two main motivators of change in family structure.

The end result of these trends, however, is that in the 2000 census, the traditional nuclear family represented only 24 percent of American households.  The traditional American family is disappearing.  But why?

Well, for starters, people are getting married later and later, while more and more children are growing up in divorced households.  As the article points out:

"The median age for first marriage has risen to an all-time high of 25 for women and 27 for men," says Megan Sweeney, an associate professor in UCLA's sociology department who studies family-related issues.  "The divorce rate has stabilized, but it's still very high; as many as a third of all young people will live in a stepfamily at some point in their lives."

So what is the problem?  Well, we might want to start with the fact that dual-income parents are working over 90 hours a week combined, with some of the most draconian labor laws in the industrialized world:

Also unresolved: how to manage the dual-career family time crunch.  In fact, in that arena, we've gone backwards, taking on more to do in less time, with research showing that dual-income parents now work more than 90 hours a week combined.

Hmmmm...backwards.  That's pretty much the opposite of progressive, right?  But corporate America, ally of the "family values voter", is doing its part!  The wonderful free market, provider of all that is good and wonderful, is stepping up to the plate to solve America's problems.

Or not.

Work demands are up, too.  And men and women who are well aware that they have little job security are reluctant to complain.  The business world is rife "with labor practices built on the assumption that the dominant family structure is still the single-earner father," says Stewart Friedman, director of the Work/Life Integration Project at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

No kidding!  But of course, now that we have the Internet and cell phones, people can start spending more time working from home, right?  I distinctly remember Nextel-man Mark Warner say something about that at YearlyKos.  The free market rules again!

Or not.

For instance, he points out, corporate culture still rewards employees for how much "face time" they put in at the office, rather than what they actually produce--encouraging longer hours away from home.

Well, maybe not.  But we're the greatest country on earth!  We've got it better than those damn Japs and Frenchies!

Or not.

"Of all the major economic powers, aside from China and Russia, only Australia and the U.S. lack subsidized parental leaves, and Australia at least guarantees parents a year off," adds Stephanie Coontz.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 entitles American parents to only 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The result: overwhelmed parents.  Elinor Ochs notes that more than a third of the fathers observed in the CELF project "worked more than 50 hours a week," with others bringing work home or checking e-mail late at night.

Damn that Clinton for his America-hating socialism!  He had the gall to institute the stingiest child leave act in the industrialized world, damn him.  The cuts that meant to corporate profits will ruin this nation and turn our hard-working citizens into featherbedding commies before this liberal tyranny is through.

And of course, his Oval Office blowjob is destroying families by the dozens every second.  Which is why we protection from gays getting married.  Yeah, that's it.

But the best is yet to come:

The image of the post-revolution family seems less new and reimagined than people just holding fast to Ozzie and Harriet images while slowly drowning.

This about sums it up.  And the article doesn't even mention what these families are drowning in: debt that will cause 1 in 7 families to declare bankruptcy by 2010.

But the sad story continues.

Togetherness is almost impossible to come by.  The CELF team used video cameras to see how often families actually shared space while at home.  The discouraging result, says CELF fellow and UCLA antrhopology graduate student Anthony Graesch...was that "family members we all together in the same room only 14 percent of the time."  Parents spent even less time with each other.  "In some families," says Graesch, "they never were alone in the same room as long as the kids were awake."

It's OK, though!  All they need a few moments at the end of each evening.  After all, the family that prays together...</snark>

Fortunately, however, people are starting to wake up:

The good news is that families still care--and care very much--about being families.  A 2001 study by Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut reported that 90 percent of working adults were concerned that they didn't spend enough time with their families.

And, in the strongest statement I've seen out of any piece of academic writing on this subject:

Finally, though academics are notoriously reluctant to predict the future, there's a sense that modern families feel sooverwhelmed that a rebellion may be brewing.

Today, workers under 30 cite the ability to maintain a balance between cwork and home life as the most important consideration in deciding whether they will join or stay with an employer.

That would be people like me.  People like me who prefer to undergo some financial hardship in exchange for temporal freedom by (in my case) starting my own business.  So that, you know, I can maybe have a family one day.


The statistics are all out there.  The studies have been done.  The facts are obvious for all to see.

This corporatist economy that works Americans' fingers to the bone, sends them into massive debt, leaves them without health insurance, and allows them no time to spend with their children is the greatest threat to family values that the world has ever seen.  All too often, people are left with two choices: a) have kids and live in poverty, stress, or both; or b) don't have kids.  This a truly terrible choice, and it is one that is encouraging unnaturally long postponements of conception while parents wait for better economic security--or even a decision not to have children at all among couples who would otherwise have wanted children.


And this is why I have such undying scorn for those racists and homophobes who tell me that when I have kids I'll somehow understand; these people who are so blinded by their own fear, hatred and ignorance that they would gladly cut off their noses to spite their face.

On the contrary, my GOP friends; I understand perfectly: people like you are the reason I can't afford to have kids yet.  Your "family values" make it so I can't have one.  And the sooner you and your ilk are removed from power and national influence, the better it will be for ALL our families.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]  

Friday, July 07, 2006

Don't Blame the Evangelicals. Blame the DEMOCRATS

Hope.  It is...simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.     --The Architect, from the film "Matrix Reloaded"

Do not condemn the evangelical Christians, my friends.  Even as they pervert the very essence of liberty; even as they target and intimidate our citizens; even as they promote scientific ignorance among our populace; even as they corrupt the structural foundations of our democracy; even as they do all these, they are not to be condemned.   Oh yes, all their actions must be thoroughly chastised and execrated--but as those in the evangelical communities might say (though they follow not their own teachings): hate the sin, but love the sinner.

Do not condemn them, for the evangelicals actually have the right idea.  They get the message, though it is through entirely the wrong prism.

The true culprit to be taken to the woodshed here is, rather, the listless, lifeless, and utterly weak-kneed and incompetent Democratic Party--a Democratic Party which, since its capitulation to Reaganism in the 1980s and its white-flag kowtowing to neoliberal corporatism under the DLC banner starting in the 90's, has utterly failed in its most important mission: providing hope for a better future to America's downtrodden and hamstrung middle class, and its nickel-and-dimed, oppressed poor.

As perverted and sick as the evangelical message and the actions of its followers have been, theirs is not solely a message of hatred and injustice.   That is, surely, the end result of their efforts--but it is not their root cause.  

Indeed, Barack Obama is wrong.  We don't need to court evangelicals using their language; we need to address the reasons they became evangelicals in the first place.  We may not be able to reach those who are already far gone down this road--but we can stem or even reverse the tide.


There is an important parallel to be drawn here between our evangelicals and Islamists in the Middle East.  As liberals, we are intelligent enough to understand blowback, and far-sighted enough to understand the structural, root causes of problems.

We understand, alongside even neoliberal writers like Fareed Zakaria, that Islamism in the Middle East is due not to the inherent evil of the Islamists themselves, but rather to a deep-seated sense of economic despair.   We understand how our addiction to petroleum energy has demanded that Western nations prop up friendly dictatorships willing to sell their natural resources at lesser cost.   We see how these despotisms, dependent solely on oil wealth for their national income, eschew the difficult work of forming a vibrant economy and a tax base promoting job growth and general economic prosperity.   We observe how an entire generation of unemployed or underemployed youth, angry at their corrupt leaders, have taken to an alternate vision of hope that places its trust in the afterlife--and to the glorious, pampered wealth that ill-meaning clerics preach awaits murderous "martyrs" in the bosom of Allah--rather than in the here and now.

It is in the attacks of 9/11 above all that we come understand how that eternal human optimism that believes in the possibility of a Better Life can be horribly manipulated to cause acts of unspeakable evil--in the absence of an alternative vision of hope for the future.


And thus it is with American evangelicals.

Most of the evangelicals who squeal with delight at the murders of innocent Muslims, abortion doctors and civil rights advocates do so because they believe that the Book of Revelations guarantees them victory against the forces of Satan and the Anti-Christ.   They believe that the perpetual "War on Terror" that they wish to wage not only against all those not of their peculiar brand of religious creed, but also increasingly of their political creed (if indeed there is a difference in today's GOP) is not something to be feared, but to be looked forward to as yet another sign of the march toward Armaggedon--a battle whose coming they relish as their salvation from their hopeless toils here on earth.

And their toils are indeed hopeless.  These people--these residents of lower Delaware, of rural Tennessee, of Alabama and Mississippi and so many other states and places forgotten by the corporate-centered economy--these are America's poor.  Not all of them, but a great number of them.  These are America's nickel-and-dimed.  These people are the health crisis in America, the ones without proper medical or dental insurance.  These are the Wal-Mart workers, the men and women on minimum wage, the ones whose jobs the illegal immigrants really are taking, if there is such a thing.   These are those who have been truly Left Behind by our corporatist economy: people for whom no one has spoken in the last twenty years, as our right wing has spoken for the rich and the corporate, and our supposedly left wing has spoken for, well, the rich and the corporate.

And so these our Left Behind have turned to Tim LaHaye and his evangelical ilk: people who promised them that, though they are left behind now, they would NOT be Left Behind when their promised rapture took place.   In the absence of those who would give them hope today, they have turned their weary eyes to those who peddle despair today, but a bloody, execrable revenge tomorrow.


And why?  Because no one else has been standing up.   Just as the clerics and imams provide, falsely, seemingly the only hope of honorable escape from grueling poverty and shame in the Islamic world when those of a more worldly bent have been proved utterly venal, shameless and corrup--so too do Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the Christinanist Right.  These are our supposed "ministers of moral values" in an America filled with the shameless moral poverty of networks like Fox which peddle at one and the same time the mind-numbing pharisaical outrage of Bill O'Reilly, and the latest brainwasting, degenerate smut in the form of "Survivor" and celebrity news.  

And who can blame them?  That is, after all what FAITH is: as a Robert Browning once said, "But a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"  It is the belief in a better possibility for the future--especially when the present circumstances seem venal and corrupt beyond repair.

This, ultimately, is the greatest tragedy perpetrated by the despicable cowards who have surrendered our once-great Democratic Party: an absence of vision and hope that has allowed this viral infestation of false populism and jingoistic, bloodthirsty evangelism to run rampant and unchecked.   Our great Party of the People was supposed to be the antibiotic--the vaccine providing America's poor, its working and middle class, with a shot in the arm of hope and optimism for better future: a future unburdened by the oppressive stench of unjust inequality both economic and social.

In this our party has failed our people.  No doctor to prevent the spread of this disease has been in the house for the last two and a half decades.   And then we wonder why the people saw fit to demand a second opinion in the form of the Republican Party--even if that second opinion comes as a fire-breathing two-headed monster of corporatist greed and theocratic fascism, masked by a grandfatherly, earnest face and a calm bedside manner.    


So reserve your judgment of the evangelicals: let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

In the Ancient Greek, the word for "Sin" is hamartia: the word literally means "missing the mark", and was most commonly used in Epic Poetry for arrows that missed their intended targets.   In New Testament Greek, to "sin" was literally "to err"--go to astray.

And the Democratic Party has sinned grievously: it has erred and gone terribly astray from the mission it was supposed to hold: to provide hope for the future for those who most needed that hope; to comfort our nation's most deeply afflicted; to pull up those who have been Left Behind; and to chastise the wicked, the rich and hypocritical Pharisees who see fit to rob and oppress their people under the cloak of false righteousness.


This above all is why we must take our party back and return it to its roots.  This infection is not of their doing; instead, it is the inevitable result of our own failure to act like DEMOCRATS.  It is WE who have allowed that hope which has the capability of being these people's greatest strength, to be corrupted into their greatest weakness--and a danger to our very nation.

This cure cannot come soon enough.  It's well past time to crash the gates: not just for our own sake, but also for the sake of those who have been left reading Left Behind.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Thank You to George Bush on Our Birthday

Thank you, Mr. President.  

This glorious day--the celebration of our nation's birth--is the greatest day of the year for me.

We all have our own individual birthdays which celebrate who we are, where we have come from, and the fact that we are still here.  But this day is an extraordinary one.  This day celebrates the common birth of ALL of us who are proud to call ourselves citizens of this great land.  Today is OUR birthday.

This day gives us time to reflect on who we are collectively; it gives us time to reflect on just how far we, a ragtag bunch of settlers, slaves and later immigrants, have come; and above all, it gives us time to give thanks for the fact that, after 231 long and turbulent years, we are still here.

It is my custom, therefore, on this day, to reread once the Declaration of Indepedence and the Constitution of the United States.  It may seem like a hokey thing to do, but it's deeply symbolic; these documents encompass all aspects of what this, our national day of birth, signifies.

First, because The Declaration of Independence and Constitution define us as a nation.  America is not, like so many other nations, defined by a race, language, creed or culture.  This Constitution, this Declaration, ARE America.  Any people--black, white, brown, red, yellow, or even green little Martians--that adopts the extraordinary principles found in these documents can rightly be said to uphold the most important principles that make us who we are.  "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."  "Free Speech."  "Right to a Speedy Trial."  "Separation of Powers."  "Democratic Election."  The list goes on and on.  It makes us who we are.

Second, because they provided our nation with a template to make it through the long arduous journey that we have collectively traveled.  Even when our collective behavior was not at its best--through slavery, the massacres of Native Americans, Asian-American internment camps, and all the rest--the fundamental guiding principles of fairnesss, equality and equal opportunity under the law almost always came through, like a lighthouse on dark and choppy seas.

Third, that these documents still exist as the framework of our very government some 231 years later--both in the original physical form at the National Archives, and in law offices and government buildings nationwide--is a testament to our continued presence as the same collective identity with which we began this great experimental journey.


And I want to thank you, Mr. Bush, for ruining this day for me.  You and your cronies and allies who are robbing us of our sustenance and sucking away at our very essence have almost completely succeeding in turning this day for me into one of sorrow.

Today, when I read these magnificent documents, I am only reminded of how you have wrecked this nation's birthday in all three of the ways that make this day truly special.

First, you have wholly corrupted the very notion of who "we" are.  You took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States--not its people, its culture, or its language.  Your oath was to the Constitution, and it was to the Constitution for a reason.  It was not to White People, Rich People, Straight People, or English-Speaking People.  It wasn't even to Citizen People.  Your oath was to the principles that make us WE THE PEOPLE.  Principles that you have utterly disregarded as "quaint" and not worth your time.

You have also divided this nation bitterly between two factions.  The left and the right have been so utterly divided by your lies and ante-upping aggression that we are now a nation divided.  United we stand, Divided we fall, Mr. President.  We are now a nation, Mr. President, not only at war with the world, but at war with each other--and we have only you to thank for that.


Second, when I read the Declaration of Independence today, I realize that we have not come very far at all.  In fact, it appears that we have come full circle.  Almost every offense perpetrated by King George III has been mirrored and perpetrated by you, Mr. President.

Today, Mr. President, our nation is in as much need of dissolving the poliical bands which connect them to you as our founding fathers were in need of doing so with their own "George" so many years ago.  Some progress that is.


Third, when I read the Constitution and Bill of Rights today, I am only reminded of the fact that we are NOT, in fact, still here.  Not like we were.  Our democracy is on life support, gasping for air in an asthmatic attack of imperial oppression.

"Separation of Powers" no longer exists.  "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" is denied to our citizens without proper healthcare; our soldiers without proper armor; our middle-class with no social ladder; our minorities without representation.  Your signing statements have pretty much invalidated the entirety of Section I.  The First Amendment hangs by a thread.  The Fourth Amendment is long gone.  So is the Fifth.  The Eighth, Ninth, and Fifteenth are all in serious trouble, thanks to you.  Oh, and you've done away with our fair and free Elections as well.


So thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you for ruining our birthday.

Thank you for ruining our birthday in every possible way in which it could have been ruined.

Thank you for being the catalyst for destruction of Who We Are; for being the agent of destroying 231 years of progress and returning us to exactly the point at which we started this journey; and for being the man responsible for asphyxiating our democracy to such a point that it lies, barely breathing and almost unrecognizable, on its political deathbed.

Thank you.