Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Who Is Don Siegelman?

Don Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama. So what does that mean to me and the rest of the world? Siegelman is currently in jail and it is all of our interests to understand how and why that happened. On Sunday, February 24, the CBS program 60 Minutes told his story. He was selectively prosecuted for political reasons by the Bush Justice Department - with back channel coaching from none other than Karl Rove.

Over 50 former U. S. Attorneys (both Republicans and Democrats) have gotten involved in trying to undo this injustice. If this kind of abuse and misuse of the Justice Department is allowed to stand, the country and the rule of law are in serious trouble. I have written two previous posts about the aggregation and consolidation of power in this administration. The first, on May 24, is about Bush's politicization of the justice system. The second, on February 9, documents Bush's signing statements as his administration builds his Imperial Presidency.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Love to Hate Hillary?

The current and insidious mythomania building around Senator Barack Obama's candidacy for U. S. President is a relatively new phenomenon compared to the virulent, decades old, and vicious fabrications directed at Hillary Clinton. Just a cursory browse on the web can find over a million sources accusing her of murder, burglary, adultery, lying, blasphemy, criminal intimidation, harassment, killing cats - even of being a communist, a sociopath, and a witch!.

There's no reasoning with these Clintonphobes. There's no changing these paranoid, psychotic mindsets. There's just no basis in reality.

The media is almost as bad. If Hillary speaks assertively, she's too shrill or she's a bitch. The standard joke is that if Obama has benefited from Black History Month, too bad there's not a White Bitch Month for Hillary! If she speaks moderately or with emotion, she's too feminine, too weak, or she's faking it. If she dresses conservatively, she's too masculine. If she doesn't, she's too provocative.

Her laugh is called a "cackle," her voice "grating." She's had way too many plastic surgeries (none of course, but how else can she look so good at 60!) Her hairstyles are criticized and her eyes are analyzed. In fact, watching her "evil" eyes is a favorite sport with her most rabid adversaries.

Even for more reasonable folks, she has to walk a very thin line between strength and vulnerability, masculinity and femininity, constraints that simply don't apply to men. She is criticized by some for being a feminist, others for not being one. She's either an extreme lefty or a pro-war hawk, godless or fundamentalist, a victim of Bill's affairs or an enabler. She's an opportunist, cold and calculating. Other candidates have "well run" campaigns, her's is the "Clinton machine." Negative connotations abound and surround her media coverage daily.

Worst of all, in the minds of many, she's brilliant and ambitious! (Qualities that are expected and admired in the men running against her.) How dare she!

Where does this stuff come from? Men, of course! NOT SO FAST! That cursory browse of the web reveals as many women (particularly professional women) Hillary haters as men. Why is that? In what way is she so threatening to other women? Some say they can't support her because she is too polarizing, too divisive (reinforced of course, by the other campaigns.) Isn't this just a more sophisticated version of the age-old tactic used against women - blame the victim?

Is it simply because she is a woman? Or a Clinton? Is it sexism or misogyny? 17th century Salem reincarnated? Where's the reason or logic for this level of malicious, personal character assignation? Isn't there a level of subconscious enmity underlying this phenomenon that makes it unfathomable - and all the more frightening?

Answers anyone?

Obama Bashing

(According to Cheney, the book is the Bible!)

I just received an email that said in caps, URGENT! READ THIS AND FORWARD TO ALL YOUR CONTACTS! DO IT NOW!!! HEED THIS AND PRAY!!!

So I read it--and couldn't believe it! The variety of false, bogus, and totally fabricated attacks on Senator Obama are too numerous to list. Besides, just describing them one more time would risk perpetuating the mythomania that's rampant out there. This email concluded with, "The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States, one of their own!!!!" UNBELIEVABLE.

The falsehood most emphasized in the email and in a myriad of similar mythology on the web is that Obama was sworn into the U. S. Senate on the Koran, not the Holy Bible. It would have been totally appropriate if Obama was a Muslim and was sworn in on the Koran and I gave Congressman Keith Ellison enormous credit for the courage of his convictions when he did so (on a Koran owned by Thomas Jefferson!)

However, it is well documented that Obama joined a Christian Church long before he ever ran for office in Illinois. It is also officially documented that when he was sworn in to the United States Senate by Vice President Cheney, his hand was on the Holy Bible. Check the official picture of that swearing in ceremony above.

Is this kind of insidious attack anti-black? Anti-Muslim? Or just plain anti-American? The tactic does reveal some knowledge of history - wasn't it the Nazis that taught us if you tell a lie often enough, they'll believe it?

It's time for reasonable, rational citizens to stand up against these kinds of lies. This stuff goes way beyond, "All's fair in love, war, and campaigning!" Recall the old adage, "All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing." Better yet, since religion is part of this myth, recall Dante's warning, "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Signing Statements - Unconstitutional???

Bush Ignores Congress, Courts, and the Constitution!

Fact: On January 30, 2008, President Bush issued the latest of his now famous signing statements. This signing statement was attached to the military budget bill, which had four provisions Bush indicated that he will enforce only if he wants to. According to Bush, these provisions impinge on his constitutional powers.

The current provisions he signed statements against:

1. Authorizes a commission to investigate fraud and waste by military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the commission given the power to compel government officials to testify.

2. Provides protection from reprisal for those who expose such waste, fraud and abuse in military contracts.

3. Requires that intelligence officials provide requested military documents to Congress within 45 days or explain why they are being withheld.

4. Prevents money authorized by Congress for military purposes to be used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.

Bush has issued these signing statements for over 750 laws, including affirmative action provisions, 'whistle-blower' protections, torture bans, requirements for detailed reports to Congress on the Patriot Act, and protections against political interference in federally funded research. His justifications have been either that the law is unconstitutional or it encroaches on presidential power.

Far more that any previous president, Bush is concentrating executive power at the expense of Congress and the Courts. What happened to the Founding Fathers' carefully crafted balance of power? Have the Framers' "checks and balances" simply been cancelled?

Doesn't U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 3 - The President, "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," - mean anything anymore?

U.S Constitution, Article l, Section 8 - The Congress shall have the power, "to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States," "to declare war," "to make rules concerning captures on land and water," "to raise and support armies," "to make rules for the government and regulation of land and naval forces," "to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia," - mean anything anymore?

Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Supreme Court's decision establishing the principal of judicial review (power to determine the constitutionality of a government action) for the Court, not the President, - mean anything anymore?

Check out the depth and breadth of Bush's actions. We owe it to "ourselves and our Posterity." Google "signing statements" and read about the decline of democracy as we have known it. The most thoroughly researched article was by Charlie Savage in the April 30, 2006, Boston Globe.

Through his myriad of signing statements, Bush has asserted all three governmental powers: to make, execute, and judge the laws. Is Bush the President who would be King? Is President Bush now, effectively, above the law? Are we headed for an imperial presidency? Will the next president willingly give back power to Congress and the Court - or continue the concentration of power?

The crisis here is not this specific signing statement or this particular president. Those of you who think this post is anti-Bush, consider how you'd react if this concentration of power is in the hands of - say President Hillary Clinton? The crisis is the future of our Constitution and the Rule of Law! Will anyone - Congress or Court or Citizens - check or roll-back this imbalance of power?