Category Archives: Politics

YESSSSSSSS!!!!!

We’ve taken the House big time and ………

George Allen has just conceded the senate race in Virginia!!!!!!  This of course gives us a senate majority which is sweet enough, but the cherry on top of that is that George Allen is one of the lowest scumbags in Washington, and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Vanity have to eat crow today.  

More sweetness of course is that ….

Hastert is stepping down and Pelosi is stepping up …

and I’ve been on the ceiling for the past 24 hours for this one …..

RUMMY IS hahahaha GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sunnyball      heeheew.gif     heeheeb      elephant

elves  baby  boinng

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I see that most of the states with banning gay marriage propositions have gone ahead and banned it like I expected they would (who wants to live in fucking Tennessee anyway?), but Arizona has proved that it is not bigoted by voting against the ban.  In fact, there were a few sweet victories over the Christo-fascists Tuesday, including a woman’s right to choose in South Dakota and stem-cell research in Missouri.  Good article here.

I’m not going to let myself get too carried away.  I spent the last two weeks campaigning my ass off for the California Clean Money Campaign and we lost 75-25%.  Us so-called liberal Californians said NO to more funding for schools, NO to alternative energy funding, and NO to cigarette tax (which would fund cancer among other things).  And of course we reelected Schwarzenazi (the Dems won most of the other government seats though).  I also have little doubt that at this very minute Karl Rove is planning a coup for all the blue states.  The Repugs are in a desperate situation so who knows what desperate plans they are making!  I’m sure that Diebald has just been asked to increase their voting machines to thousands of counties across the nation.

I noticed on Tuesday that there were about 50% more voting machines at my voting place than ever before.  I stood in line nearly 50 minutes for the 2004 election.  Yesterday there were about three other people there when I was voting.  I went at about 9:30 in the morning so the registration book was practically blank on every page but I would have hoped that there would have been at least a couple of signatures on each page.  It looks like around 6.5 million Californians voted, out of a population of around 27 million eligible voters.  Yeeeah.

Despite the shitty results of our ballot initiatives, I’m celebrating.  It’s so rare that Dems get a majority in this country I want to savor it.  I just hope they don’t fucking blow it!

How Did We Get This Way?

Julenka asked me this question in a response to one of my posts [#1 is a Bullet] … “…how the hell has it all managed to turn upside-down like this? I mean, fascism, psychopathy, weakening the people through distracting them and cultivating the ignorance.. all of that is kinda obvious now, right? But how did we get here?”

Given my age (45) I guess I can have some perspective on how we got to the pathological state that our society is in now.  Someone older than myself probably has an even clearer perspective, but just in the past thirty years I have seen enormous changes in our society in terms of our attitudes and of course our political and social climate.  I can make out several of the ‘culprits’ that deserve most of the blame for the decline of our civilization.

 

Things were hardly perfect thirty years ago but we were probably at our best in the early-mid seventies. The seventies culture was about expanding one’s mind and relating to nature and the environment.  I remember seeing used bookstores everywhere.  In some neighborhoods, there were two or three of them on every block.  The oil shortage and the discovery of the Greenhouse Effect made people turn in their big gas-guzzling cars for tiny, fuel-efficient cars.  People began jogging (and streaking, which is a whole other story!).  Folks became less interested in dark, cavernous steakhouses with big leather booths and four-Martini lunches.  Restaurants began selling healthy foods and even (gasp!) ethnic foods.  Movies were at their very best in the early-mid seventies.  They were about real people with flaws, and they were adults (ironically, during that period when I was a teen, there were practically no movies featuring teenagers, which I consider a wonderful thing).  Even the genres of legend such as Westerns were completely deconstructed; the line between the good guys and the bad guys became extremely blurred.   We no longer relied on the fantasy of pure good and pure evil; we accepted that humans are more complex (which in IMO why those movies were so exciting and challenging!).   It was also a time when movies and TV began to finally acknowledge people of ‘other’ races, and pay attention to the poor and working class.  Because shows like “All in the Family” ridiculed ignoramuses and racists, bigots had to go into the closet (yay!).  We stepped out of the fantasy that everyone in this country was white, middle-class and fully functional.  We fessed up to our dysfunctional families and dysfunctional society and dysfunctional selves.  Things probably got a little too far what with all the self-help books and self-improvement seminars, but at least we weren’t living in an illusion anymore. We at least were searching for something tangible and meaningful instead of scavenging malls in our free time or vegging out in front of the TV.

Back then, there were only eight channels on TV, and there was no broadcasting between 1:30 AM and 7:00 AM.  With ‘so few’ channels, people had to either spend their time doing other things, or picking from programming that offered at least some sophisticated or challenging shows.  Up until the early eighties, PBS offered excellent programming.  They actually had numerous adult discussion programs on issues both topical and philosophical, and every viewpoint no matter how radical was allowed to be expressed.   They showed foreign films weekly, as well as great plays staged for television.  As for the music culture; if people wanted to see musicians, they went to concerts.  They didn’t really get to see the performers unless they were very close to the stage because back then there were no giant viewing screens  -but that was okay; the vibe from being there with other maniacal fans was what really mattered!   The news broadcasting on TV began its decline in the early seventies but compared to today, there was still some journalism and – as we know from Watergate – a press that wasn’t afraid of asking hard questions to politicians and digging wherever it needed to dig in order to find the answers.  The Vietnam war made us shy away from all forms of militarism.  It seemed as though no one would ever consider war to be glorious or adventurous again!  Religious fundamentalism didn’t exist in the media save for radio and TV stations in the ‘bible belt’ part of the country, and it was almost never brought up by politicians in a national forum.  I suppose I needn’t add that the seventies was also when abortion and homosexuality became legal, and the possession of small amounts of marijuana went from being a felony to a misdemeanor.

 

Then – sigh! – came the eighties and Reaganitis set in.  His was a culture that embraced good ol’ fashioned meat-and-potatoes Ozzie and Harriet family values.  He fully embraced the Christo-fascists, which is how the wheels started turning there.  I also think he used Orwell’s “1984” as a primer as he turned doublespeak into an art form, and he created new lows in logic reform (remember his remark about how trees cause pollution?).  Cable turned television into a one-hundred-channel fairyland complete with home shopping and 24-hour news and sports.  Not that one could tell the difference between the news and sports; they both used the same glitzy graphics and music, the same kinds of announcers, and the same length of soundbites.  Since each administration picks the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS began to replace their cutting edge intellectual fare with constant reruns of classic movies like “It’s A Wonderful Life” and shows featuring great places to eat and shop.  Music turned into a totally visual medium (MTV).  Movies went back to being mythic and bigger-than-life, with clear villains and good guys.  Rib joints, ‘surf ‘n’ turf’ and retro-diners replaced healthy restaurants (ironically, ‘real’ old fashioned diners were replaced by franchises like ‘McBurgerCluckBucks’… bleh bleh bleh…).  Independent stores were replaced by malls.  Supermarkets were replaced by megamarkets like Walmart.  High-priced, hi-tech gyms replaced jogging.   Cars and houses became bigger.  While blue-collar jobs began to be outsourced by the millions and family farms were bought out by huge corporations, social programs and college tuition were seriously sliced in budget cuts. Almost every program in Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ was either decimated or destroyed.  Crack cocaine was introduced to the ghettos.  The nuclear arms race with the Soviets heated up,  we went to war wherever we could get away with it (Grenada, Panama, & ultimately Kuwait), and funded wars whether we could get away with it or not (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among others).  It was a shitty decade; bookended metaphorically with great irony by the assassination of John Lennon in 1980 to the suicide of Abbie Hoffman in 1989.

I don’t know why the population as a whole allowed all of those events to happen, but I think the media is mostly to blame.  They were bought up by corporations more and more, thus they created the climate of ‘don’t worry be happy’ and ‘shop til you drop’.  The only reason all the movements in the sixties were able to make so many positive changes was because we had a free media then, and protest movements were far more romantic and photogenic than every other tepid thing that was being broadcast.  Also of course, the news actually showed us what war really looks like!   But after the war, TV viewers didn’t get as worked up over issues like the environment, education and ‘no nukes’.  Those protests weren’t considered as dramatic or ‘sexy’ as war, so they weren’t considered ‘good television’.  It gets me extremely mad when I hear younger people say that all the hippies sold out after the sixties.  They only disappeared from TV screens.  Most everyone that was dedicated to social change remained – and still remain to this day – dedicated to ‘the cause’.  Gil Scott Heron said ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ but in our society today, if it ain’t on TV, it’s not real.

Fantasy has replaced reality and that is why the nation (well, most of the nation) mourned Raygun for over a week when he died a couple of years ago.  He delivered us from reality and structured the world once more to fit into that comfortable myth of ‘good and evil’.  He made us proud even though we had very little to be proud of.  He gave us permission to be selfish instead of selfless.  He made it okay to use poor people and women as scapegoats again.  And most of all, he found a way to get millions of people to vote against their best interests and love him for it; by saying that he – and they – were on the side of God.  So fantasy is also to blame for our downfall.

Anyway, what free press we had has either been replaced by corporate-press, or it’s drowning in the ocean of static made by something like 400 TV channels.  And man, this corporate press knows how to spin!   Yesterday while we were driving around, I saw 2 giant billboards that said “Say ‘No’ to Monopoly! Boycott Time Warner! Order Your Direct TV Satellite Today!”.  Now it’s true; Time Warner has taken over all of the cable companies in LA.  But Direct TV is owned by Rupert Murdoch for christsake!!   The guy owns half the media in the world!  Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration.  I’m too lazy to count what he owns, but those who are interested can look here.  Of course, most idiots in this city don’t even know who Rupert Murdoch is, so his PR people have done a ‘Karl Rove’ on the population of our fair city, making them believe that they are actually doing something to combat the big bad corporate guys by … unknowingly supporting the big bad corporate guys.  I hear poor George Orwell rolling in his grave.

 

So ‘spin’ is also to blame.

 

And the culture wars are to blame.  Most people are too lazy to pick up a book or a newspaper, so they can’t tell you in any detail about the complexities of war or the economy or any of the dozens of pertinent problems this country is facing.  But they do know how they feel about people who eat Brie, or people who wear tattoos or – on the other end of the spectrum – how they feel about people who eat Velveeta or who go to church regularly.  I remember Jesse Jackson’s speech at the 2004 convention being about how Democrats are the ones who are helping the folks who live on Kool-Aid and peanut butter sandwiches.  And John Edwards went on forever about taking his wife to Wendy’s for their anniversary.  This stuff is what wins them votes; not what they have to say about the war or the economy.  It didn’t used to be like that.  Conventions are highly organized circuses now.  They used to at least be a cross between organized circuses and real political discourse!   But the media has helped spin the issues away from politics to lifestyle, making those who live a certain way, love a certain way, look a certain way, and even eat a certain way the cause for society’s ills – it has nothing to do with politicians or the corporations and the lobbyists that own them.  These spin-masters are smart.  They know we’re always in competition with each other and watching to see who’s better or worse off than ourselves.  This can be clearly seen in the mid-eighties when the great Phil Donahue Show, which daily discussed important issues with studio audiences, got run over by shows like Oprah or Geraldo, which focused on our personal problems and ultimately, our dirtiest laundry.  The message became clear; ‘don’t concern yourself with what your government is doing. Just pay attention to what your neighbor is doing’.

Government secrecy is another big issue.  Secrecy in the name of security has always been good to keep ‘we the people’ at bay.  Nixon was the first big culprit at that when he created a ‘press room’ for the press at the White House (previous to that they were allowed to hang out in the lobby where they could view and even approach any person who passed through).  The lobby to the WH has gotten smaller and smaller over the years.  The last nail in the coffin of our ‘free press’ was when the Bush administration delegated Helen Thomas to the back row during press conferences.  That was not only a ploy to stop the one reporter left who was asking hard questions, but a signal to any other reporter that they’d better ‘behave’ or be pushed to the back of the room themselves.  And of course, we have censorship of every kind, including a war with no dead civilians, no dead soldiers, and no coffins or graves.  The press has colluded in this hypocrisy.  They’re afraid that they will be charged with exploiting the war if they ever actually covered it.  So the press is also strongly to blame.

Ultimately we have to take our fair share the blame as well – all of us as a society.  In the late seventies – early eighties for example, there were two fantastic free weekly newspapers here in LA that had some of the best journalism in the country.  But a free newspaper can’t afford to stay free without giving in to advertisers, and by the mid-eighties, The LA Weekly basically became a magazine featuring ads with a few good op-ed pages scattered through, and the LA Reader was eventually bought up by conservatives and then died.  Lifestyle replaced life.  Advertising is everywhere, in schools, in cinemas… I’ve heard that they even have ads over the urinals in men’s restrooms!   And these ads are designed to sell us ‘feelings’ not products.  For some reason, we eat it up.  Well I don’t, but most folks do and certainly this commercial bombardment in every facet of our lives dictates what we value.  We no longer value trying to understand ourselves as individuals or as a society.  We only value what we can purchase.  I’ve heard countless numbers of people who have said that they don’t like museums (which BTW, were free up until the mid-eighties!) except for the gift shops because it’s no fun to just look at stuff.  We have to show people how cool or rich we are by showing it all off.

But … even though we are in deep shit, I’m not totally pessimistic.  There are more activists in America today than there were ten or even twenty years ago (and in other countries they seem to really be flourishing!).  People in this country are now (finally!) paying serious attention to environmental issues.  Hollywood is still mostly run by social liberals (when the Christo-fascists take over Hollywood, we can kiss America goodbye forever).  And… it is sometimes the paradox of life that when things become so horrible and miserable and hopeless, people rise up and say ‘no’.  In a way, this administration is helping the world get better, simply by doing so much to destroy it.  One of my favorite quotes is from the series “I Claudius” when old Claudius who has seen the empire sinking into a virtual snake pit, says over and over, “let all the poisons that lurk in the mud, hatch out”.   He had to let the imperial dynasty destroy Rome in order to bring back the republic.  I only hope we won’t have to watch the world burn the way Rome did in the years that began its downfall!

The one thing that always keeps me going is a line in one of my favorite movies “My Dinner With Andre” (a ‘must see’!), when Andre talks about how throughout the centuries – even in the Dark Ages – there have been little pockets in every society that preserved the light; that kept us connected with nature and creativity and human kindness.  Perhaps just writing in these silly little blogs, we are keeping that light alive.  We may not be saving the world, but we’re keeping that light alive in some minuscule way, like Winston Smith, scribbling away in his diary just out of the eye-view of Big Brother.

These People

This story slipped through my radar last February but it’s worth posting:

“On February 23rd, a fire ravaged the KTS Textile factory in Chittagong, with 61 dead and hundreds hospitalized. Reports from the BBC, Bangladesh’s The New Nation and The Independent, claim the incident as the worst factory fire in the garment district’s history. 90% of Bangladesh’s textile and garment industry is employed by young women and several of the dead and missing are believed to be girls as young as 12 according to the National Labor Committee.  The NLC and The Independent reported that a main emergency exit at KTS was illegally locked. One worker, recovering at a near by hospital said, “there was no fire alarm, no bells, just screams, people running for exits… complete darkness”.  There was only one available exit cluttered by boxes, as over 500 panicked workers made for a narrow escape. Several workers jumped from the building’s 3rd and 4th floor windows.

The KTS Factory is now also charged with exploiting child labor in a work force of 12-14 years girls being paid between 7 and 14 cents (U.S) per hour. Although there are efforts in International Child Labor regulations in Bangladesh, an ILO survey showed 4.7 million child workers under the age of 14.”

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This was not a rare incident.  There are dozens of factory fires in sweatshops every year. 

Whenever I argue the Globalization issue with people, they insist that the US is helping ‘these people’ by giving them jobs.  “The wages have to be low”, they say “otherwise the companies can’t compete on the market.  It’s good for everybody”.

At which point I mention the sweatshops here in the US a hundred years ago.  I mention the insanely low pay, the child labor, the horrid working conditions, and the lack of safety (often bringing up the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, which was chillingly similar to this KTS fire).  I basically ask them if they think that we should go back to that kind of labor in the US, and of course they say no.  My big reply to them is “if you don’t think that ‘these people’ are inferior to us, then you have to agree that they deserve the same rights as we have to a living wage, a safe and clean environment to work in, and no child labor.”  Their response tells all.  Are ‘these people’ equal to us or inferior?  It’s that simple.

Please give generously to the NLC and to the Global March Against Child Labor.

#1 Is A Bullet

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reviewed Pat Buchanan’s new book, and it’s shocking even for Buchanan.  Not what he says, but the fact that he is so blatant about his racism.  The book is called, ‘State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America” (too bad I didn’t get to read it on Columbus Day!).  Alexander Zaitchik of the SLPC writes…

“…the book reflects racial views that have now veered to the extreme. White America is changing color, Buchanan argues — “one of the greatest tragedies in human history.” The Mexican government is involved in a plot to take over the Southwestern United States, and parts of this country already look like the “Third World.” The segregated South wasn’t all bad “culturally” — blacks and whites were united, after all. America, despite what its founders wrote, was a nation formed not on the basis of creed but rather a homogenous ethnic culture. To put it plainly, State of Emergency is a white nationalist tract. The thesis is that America must retain a white majority to survive as a nation. It is rooted in a blood-and-soil nationalism more blood than soil. The echoes of Nazi ideology are clear and chilling. As Buchanan helpfully explained to John King, who was interviewing him in one of his several CNN appearances: “We gotta get into race and ethnic questions.”

State of Emergency unapologetically reflects Buchanan’s insistence on the centrality of race to the United States and its culture. “This idea of America as a creedal nation bound together not by ‘blood or birth or soil’ but by ‘ideals’ that must be taught and learned … is demonstrably false,” Buchanan writes in the book.

Simply put, America is not a nation of ideas. It is a nation of people — white people. Buchanan is especially overt in making this case when he endorses the view of his late mentor and editor Sam Francis, that American and European civilizations could never have been created without the “genetic endowments” of whites. He goes on to describe discussions of race as “the Great Taboo”; to ignore the role of race, he adds, is “like not telling one’s doctor of a recurring pain that could kill you.”

…………………

The article mentioned that the book was #3 on the Best Seller list (it didn’t mention that it was the political Best Seller list, but still…).  I guess it was #3 for a while but unfortunately it was in the #1 spot long enough for it to be the permanent claim by the RW press.  Currently it’s #8, so at least it’s slipping.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that in the current #1 spot is Bill O’Reilly’s “The Culture Warrior”. 

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… Lies

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Congressman Christopher Shays has been allying with conservative talk show terrorists by stating that “the Abu Ghraib abuses weren’t torture but instead involved a sex ring of troops”.

“Now I’ve seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture,” Shays said at a debate Wednesday.

“It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from (Maryland) who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked,” added Shays. “And they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn’t torture.”

Ah-HUH!  Just how difficult is it for Rep(rehensible) Shays and those talk show fascists to do an image search at Google?   It’s all there;  pages and pages and pages of it.  I don’t know what Shays and his buddies are into sexually, but if this is their idea of sex… Well, I can only suggest that maybe from now on they don’t insinuate that they’re into that stuff; their party has enough to deal with with Foley.   I suggest they stick their butt plugs in their mouths from now on.

Is It Civil Yet?

Well, USA Today just reported yesterday that a Johns Hopkins Survey says that over 600,000 Iraqis have died since the war; either by our forces, sectarian violence, or criminal acts.  That’s more than were killed in the last twelve years of Saddam’s reign.  The newspaper cited that torture in Iraq today may even be worse than during Saddam’s regime.  It also mentioned unlawful detentions, growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in “honor killings” of women.

The article ends with, “It attributed many of the deaths to rising sectarian tensions that have pushed Iraq toward civil war”.  Toward.  Apparently, we’re not there yet.  Still, no one in our government is calling it that.  They also claim that the Iraqi deaths are ‘only’ in the tens of thousands, but they don’t get to complain about any ‘exaggerated facts’ since they stated from day one that “we don’t do body counts”.

 

America: Freedom to Fascism [USA, 2006]

wake up

BULLSHIT ALERT!

I saw the trailer for this a couple of weeks ago and it looked like it might be interesting.  I have to say, it does have some exemplary stuff about the militarism of our police, the corruption of our government, and the incompetence of our legal system.  It also has a MAGNIFICENT bit about our computer-voting system.  But I think, or at least I hope, that director Aaron Russo is completely unaware of how this film is going to be championed by some of the most cretin extremists, from ‘close the border’ racists, to militant Christians, to corporate – yes corporate – bamboozlers who will prey on all that wealth that Americans will want to be withholding from Uncle Sam.   There are some libertarians who have some strong points to make but basically, this film is filled with talking head extremists from all points of the political spectrum.  I was looking up some othe folks who appeared and some of them are waaaaay out there.  [Ironically, in the process of researching them I discovered a group that makes Pat Robertson and the folks in “Jesus Camp” seem like Abbie Hoffman and the Woodstock generation.  Take a look at:  http://www.retakingamerica.com/index.html  It’s quite interesting and somewhat funny (Harry Potter corrupting our children with witchcraft, the moon landing was a fakery…).]

The point is, after leaving the theater we were approached by someone who was handing out brochures to all who were leaving.  The brochures are for “World Freedom Ventures”; an anti-tax group with a very interesting business.  They somehow fix it for you to get away with not only not paying taxes, but even having to have a driver’s license and registration, or paying Social Security tax.  Obviously, it is best – in their great philosophy – to invest all your assets, valuables and property in a Pure Trust that is lawsuit-proof.  They help you obtain a proprietary Limited Liability Corporation, and you’ll also be given the opportunity to be trained and developed as a World Freedom Ventures Associate, enabling you to create your own Sovereignty business.  In other words, instead of paying your hard-earned money to a corporate government, you can be your own corporation sticking it to the little guy!  That’s the rub of course; working class and poor people have no “assets, valuables and property” to invest; somebody’s gotta get screwed!  “As long as it’s not me!” is maybe ‘The American Way’ to some people but I grew up in the incandescence of the JFK administration that said, “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”.  Yeah, our tax system is screwed, big time.  It needs a major overhaul though, not to be eliminated!

The people in this film rant about corporations but that’s exactly what most anti-tax activists want; an unlimited ability to incorporate themselves, without having to open a bank account in Switzerland.  The film totally overrides any discussion about what would happen to the country is income tax was eliminated.  Only one comment was made about education and it was as hilarious as it was incorrect.  According to them, education in America is funded solely by property tax.  Well, it is in great part, which is why the schools in poor areas suck.  But without any federal funding in those poor areas, students will be reading their lessons from scrawls in the dirt, and learning history from… well, of course no one will want them to learn history, to find out about a time when there were ‘real schools’.   The film also has an alarming end-tag about the SPP (Security & Prosperity Partnership) creating an EU-type situation between the US, Canada & Mexico.  It doesn’t mention that the opponents of the SPP are such conservative pundits like The John Birch Society, Phyllis Schlafly, and Human Events.  Liberal Canadians don’t like it either (it might lead to their loss of nationalized health care for one thing), but jeez…. who do you believe any more these days?

I’d say that for the most part, this film is good, but it is also really, really dangerous.  Most of the audience applauded, and as the theater was in Beverly Hills, you just know those folks rushed back to their $2 million homes to find out where to sign up to incorporate themselves (if they haven’t done so already).  As the film has both radically liberal and conservative pundits, the producers can play it in any city in the world.  As long as the juicy idea of ‘no more income tax’ is played out before them, the audiences will shrug off their anger at whichever side is at odds with their political beliefs.  They all prostrate to the same God.  The almighty “$”

Still, I recommend seeing the film because I think people should decide for themselves.  The second half of the film covers a lot of important material.  Just THINK,  and for godsake research the information provided in this film fully!   ….my grade: 4