Samizdat
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
  How China Sees the U.S.
The United States State Department issues an annual global report card called the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The first report was released in 1977. In years past, the report has not been viewed favorably by authoritarian govenments, dictatorships, nor those countries who openly suppress human rights.

This year the report drew criticism and many charges of out-right hypocrisy from activist groups in the U.S. and from many areas of the world, including China. Since the U. S. State Department saw no reason to report on its own government, the Chinese government filled in the gap. The document they produced is called "The Human Rights Record of the United States." The full English version is available at:

http://english.people.com.cn/200503/03/eng20050303_175406.html.)

I present here an excerpt of China's assessment, complete with grammatical and other errors.

Life, Liberty and Security of Person

American society is characterized with rampant violent crimes, severe infringement of people's rights by law enforcement departments and lack of guarantee for people's rights to life, liberty and security of person.

The United States has the biggest number of gun owners, and gun violence has affected lots of innocent lives. About 31,000 Americans are killed and 75,000 wounded by firearms each year, which means more than 80 people are shot dead each day.

The United States characterizes itself as "a paradise for free people," but the ratio of its citizens deprived of freedom has remained among the highest. According to statistics from the Department of Justice, the number of inmates in the United States jumped from 320,000 in 1980 to two million in 2000, a hike by six times. The number of convicted offenders may total more than six million if parolees and probationers are also counted.

Political Rights and Freedom

The United States claims to be "a paragon of democracy," but American democracy is manipulated by the rich and malpractices are common. Elections in the United States are in fact a contest of money. The presidential and Congressional elections last year cost nearly $4 billion.
Campaign advertisement and political debates were full of distorted facts, false information and lies.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Poverty, hunger and homelessness have haunted the world richest country. Upper middle- and upper-class families that constitute the top 10 percent of the income distribution are prospering while many among the remaining 90 percent struggle to maintain their standard of living. According to the statistics released by the United States Census Bureau in 2004, the number of Americans in poverty has been climbing for three years. It rose by 1.3 million in 2003 to 35.9 million.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination has been deeply rooted in the United States, permeating into every aspects of society. The colored people are generally poor, with living condition much worse than the white. The death rate of illness, accident and murder among the black people is twice that of the white. The rate of being victim of murders for the black people is five times that of the white. The rate of being affected by AIDS for the black people is ten times that of the whites while the rate of being diagnosed by diabetes for the black people is twice that of the whites.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States received 29,000 complaints in 2003 of racial bias in the workplace. The Declaration of Independence said all men are created equal, so the gap between black and white people is simply an insult to the founding essence of the United States.

After the Sept. 11 incident, the United States openly restricts the rights of citizens under the cloak of homeland security, and uses diverse means including wire tapping of phone conversations and secret investigations, checks on all secret files, and monitoring transfers of fund and cash flows to supervise activities of its citizens, in which, people of ethnic minority groups, foreigners and immigrants become main victims.

The Rights of Women and Children

The situation of American women and children was disturbing. The rates of women and children physically or sexually victimized were high. According to F.B.I. Crime Statistics, in 2003 the United States witnessed 93,233 cases of raping. The statistics also showed that every two minutes one woman was sexually assaulted and every six minutes one woman was raped.

Children were victims of sex crimes. Every year about 400,000 children in the U.S. were forced to engage in prostitution or other sexual dealings on the streets. In recent years scandals about clergymen molesting children kept breaking out. It is believed that from 1950 to 2002 more than 10,600 boys and girls were sexually abused by nearly 4,400 clergymen.

The Human Rights of Foreign Nationals

In 2004, United States Army service people were reported to have abused and insulted Iraqi prisoners of war, which stunned the whole world. The United States forces were blamed for their fierce and dirty treatments for these Iraqi P.O.W.'s. They made the P.O.W.'s naked by force, masking their heads with underwear (even women's underwear), locking up their necks with a belt, towing them over the ground, letting military dogs bite them, beating them with a whip, shocking them with electric batons, needling them sometimes and putting chemical fluids containing phosphorus on their wounds.

The United States frequently commits wanton slaughters during external invasions and military attacks. Spain's Uprising newspaper on May 12, 2004, published a list of human rights infringement incidents committed by the United States troops, quoting two bloodthirsty sayings of two American generals, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead" by Gen. Philip Sheridan, and "we should bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age" by Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay.

A survey on Iraqi civilian deaths, based on the natural death rate before the war, estimates that the United States-led invasion might have led to 100,000 more deaths in the country, with most victims being women and children. In addition, the United States troops often plunder Iraqi households when tracking down anti-United States militants since the invasion. The American forces has so far committed at least thousands of robberies and 90 percent of the Iraqis that have been rummaged are innocent.

Despite tons of problems in its own human rights, the United States continues to stick to its belligerent stance, wantonly trample on the sovereignty of other countries and constantly stage tragedies of human rights infringement in the world. Instead of indulging itself in publishing the "human rights country report" to censure other countries unreasonably, the United States should reflect on its erroneous behavior on human rights and take its own human rights problems seriously.
 
Monday, March 28, 2005
  I Choose The Vision
When I look into the future, I see the movie "Soylent Green" only I see it through a nightmare. Consider - China has over a billion people whose per capita income right now is over $5,000 a year. Per capita in China is growing at the rate of 9.4% per year and population is steadily increaing. Their per capita has been growing at better than 8% per year since 1975. Even a conservative projection of this curve into the future shows China's per capita surpassing that of the United States by 2031 at which time China will have a minimum of 1.4 billion people. Can you imagine the struggle for resources that will be on-going?

And this doesn't even take India into account. India's per capita income is growing at 7% per year and their population is estimated to surpass that of China by 2025. In contrast, currently, 1 billion people live on less than one dollar per day; 3 billion people live on less than two dollars per day.

My point is that any political vision for the future must take these realities into consideration. In a sense, I can understand where the Bush administration is coming from. They see these numbers and it scares the hell out of them. They want to grab all the oil and other resources they can get their hands on no matter who they have to kill or torture to do it because, to them, it must seem that this will actually save lives (of their friends and associates - or "tribe" for short) further on down the line. They are acting for the greater good of their tribe but not for the greater good of the United States or of the world.

I have examined these numbers and it has brought me to the belief that the only thing that might save us, as a civlilization, is to embrace the reality of the limited resources of the earth and seek world-wide cooperation through all possible channels to solve these global problems.
That being the case, to survive at all, we must have a government with the vision and dedication to lead the world in solving the problems of global-warming, finding an alternate for oil, and a way to deal with the poverty and despair that keeps so many of our brothers and sisters on this planet living a life that is barely above that of an abused animal. Simply turning our backs on reality is not going to cut it.

There is much talk now among Democrats about a new "vision" that will engage voters imaginations and bring them back to the Democratic ticket. Well, I say that our vision must be bigger than that. Our vision must be bigger than the Democratic Party. It must be bigger than America. It must be a vision bigger than putting man on the moon. It must be bigger than saving the environment or abolishing poverty or bringing equal rights to all - yet it must be something that encompasses all of these.

I humbly suggest that we do nothing less then elect a government that vows a dedication to save Civilization. And I'm not talking about fixing Social Security or Medicare - although this would be a by-product. Our nation, our people and our political party must become committed to this goal and our commitment must be stronger than it was when we committed to putting a man on the moon. This time, it is not our national pride that is at stake; it is, quite literally, human civilization.

We can do this and we can win. The people we are up against are tiny people with tiny profit-based motives. They have made temporary alliances with people with genuine moral beliefs by falsely claiming to hold those same moral beliefs in order to gain support. A case in point is their alignment with the Christian Right.

The Christian Right are not a bunch of fanatics to be shrugged off. They are people with very strong beliefs who care deeply for the lives of other human beings. Unfortunately, a lot of their energy has been wasted and some of their efforts misguided by zealots out to make a fast buck and gain publicity for their own nefarious purposes. It is up to us, as Progressives, to identify and clarify our vision to the Christian Right and other groups who have been splintered away from us by what they view as a lack of moral commitment.

It is up to us to convince them of our sincerity, good intentions and commitment. Words are not going to be enough. Actions always speak louder and clearer than words, so to win this each one of us must be aware of what our congressional representatives are doing and how they are voting. We must express our vision clearly to Congressmen and Senators and if their votes don't coincide with our vision then we need to get rid of them.

The Christian Right and other groups that voted with the Neo-conservatives in 2004 have a lot more in common with Progressives than they do with NeoCons. Neither Progressives nor Christians want people to be tortured, humiliated, beaten or starved. Neo-conservatives feel those evils are just necessary means to gain a profitable outcome.

This, to me, is the kind of things we must be passionately communicating. I see the reality of what our world is becoming but I have a vision of what it could be. I choose to work for the vision.
 
Friday, March 25, 2005
  Too Little For Lazarus
FAITH AND THE FEDERAL BUDGET
By FRANK T. GRISWOLD, et. al.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames."

The passage comes from 16th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, and it contains a warning that should deeply trouble those of us who live in a wealthy nation. As the story continues, the rich man implores Abraham to raise Lazarus from the dead and send him to the house of his brothers so that they may be spared his torment. "They have Moses and the prophets," Abraham replies. "They should listen to them." The rich man says, "No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." And Abraham answers, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

In telling this story, Jesus makes clear that perpetrating economic injustice is among the gravest of sins. Yet self-interest is so deeply ingrained in each one of us, he says, that we will not renounce it, even should someone rise from the dead. Jesus was right about that. It was he who rose from the dead to save us from greed and myriad other sins. Yet those who have much continue feasting, even as those who have little remain at their gates.

Like many Americans, we read our daily newspaper through the lens of faith, and when we see injustice, it is our duty to say so. The 2006 federal budget that President Bush has sent to Capitol Hill is unjust. It has much for the rich man and little for Lazarus. According to the White House's own numbers, this budget would move 300,000 people off food stamps in the next five years. It would cut the funds that allow 300,000 children to receive day care. It would reduce funding for Medicaid by $45 billion over the next 10 years, and this at a time when 45 million Americans - the highest level on record - already are without health insurance. These cuts would be alarming in any circumstances, but in the context of the 2006 budget, they are especially troubling. For even as it reduces aid to those in poverty, this budget showers presents on the rich. If passed in its current form, it would make permanent tax cuts that have bestowed nearly three-quarters of the "relief" on one-fifth of the country. If passed in its current form, it would include whopping new cuts that would benefit, almost exclusively, those with household incomes of more than $200,000 per year. If passed in its current form, it would take Jesus' teaching on economic justice and stand it on its head.

Some contend that these cuts will stimulate the economy and improve life for all Americans, but we believe that stocking the rich man's larder is a peculiar strategy for getting Lazarus more food. Not only does this policy rest on dubious economic assumptions, but it asks the poor to pay the cost for a prosperity in which they may never share.

Some contend that works of mercy are not the business of the government but of private citizens. But in what other area of our national life do we formulate policies uninformed by our deepest values?

Some contend that with the proper support, faith-based charities will step forward to fill the gap created by the government's retreat. But this flies in the face of the lessons that we, as religious leaders, have learned firsthand. Our churches operate thousands of charities, from the parochial to the international. Believe us when we tell you that neither we, nor our Evangelical brothers and sisters, nor our friends of other faiths have anywhere near the resources to turn back the rising tide of poverty in this country.

We know that programs, whether governmental or nonprofit, can change people's lives for the better. New situations challenge us to respond to new conditions and to support those who are in transition out of poverty. Sadly, the 2006 budget will send more people searching for food in cupboards that, quite frequently, are bare.

Our churches will continue their ameliorative ministries. But it is not enough for us as a church or a society to be merciful. We must remember the admonition of the prophet Micah: "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah's choice of verbs is instructive. We are not to love justice or preach justice, we are to do justice - to act, and, when necessary, to struggle.

We urge the members of our churches, of other churches and other faiths, and all whose conscience compels them to do justice to join us in opposing this budget. Write to your representatives. Write to your local newspaper. Join the organizations working to obtain justice for the 36 million Americans living below the poverty line, the 45 million without health insurance and the unknown millions struggling to keep their families from slipping into these ever-increasing ranks.

Together, let us pledge ourselves to creating a nation in which economic policies are infused with the spirit of the man who began his public ministry almost 2,000 years ago by proclaiming that God had anointed him "to bring good news to the poor."

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold is presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, USA.
The Right Reverend Mark Hanson is presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The Reverend Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick is stated clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.).
The Reverend John H. Thomas is general minister and president, United Church of Christ.
James Winkler is general secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church.
 
  MAKE THE PIE HIGHER
by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.

This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet
become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.

I know that the human being
and the fish can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope,
where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!

Knock down the tollbooth!

Vulcanize Society!

Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

_________________________________________________
The above is a poem made up entirely of actual quotes from George W. Bush.

The quotes have been arranged for aesthetic reasons only by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson but have not been edited in the slightest.
 
  Left-Wing Zealotry
by AbbY Bardi

I admit it: in the words of a recent letter from a disgruntled reader, I am a left-wing zealot.

Ten years ago when I started writing for the Voice, I had no interest in politics whatsoever. At that time, I wrote about small, harmless sins such as "Bad Hair," and if someone were to talk to me about the workings of Congress, I yawned and prayed for her to finish. I regarded the Washington Post as a magazine called "Style" with a boring front section attached to it, and I read the headlines only when I had finished the important articles like book reviews and celebrity gossip.

Some time in the '90s, though, I couldn't help noticing something odd: although Bill Clinton had high approval ratings and our economy had never been better--you may remember that there were "Help Wanted" signs in every store back then--a group of people called Republicans seemed inexplicably not to like him.

From the day Clinton took office, it was apparent to me that he was up against a well-funded cadre of people who didn't care that for the most part, things in America seemed to be going pretty well. They wanted to bring him down by any means necessary for reasons that seemed, even to me, who wasn't paying much attention, purely ideological. 1

By the time this culminated in the Lewinsky scandal, politics had gotten my attention. Here's what happened next:

During Al Gore's campaign, I couldn't help noticing the role the news media was playing in representing him as a stiff, pretentious dweeb, despite the fact that people who knew him told me he was a warm, charming man with a great sense of humor. When I watched him debate George W. Bush, I thought Gore's performance was far superior to Bush's, but the pundits focused on Gore's flaws, ignored Bush's, and declared Bush the winner.

Then the 2000 election occurred. When we look back on it now, it's clear that Gore actually won that election--not only the popular vote, but the vote in Florida, i.e., the electoral vote, as the recount later demonstrated. For some reason, the final results of this recount were buried on back pages, but it's a matter of public record that if the counting had not been stopped by the Supreme Court, Gore would have been president. Call me petty, but this bothered me.

The next thing Bush did that I had a problem with seems innocuous enough: he said things that sounded inarticulate, uninformed, and often, just plain dumb. 2 I am an English teacher, and when someone mangles the English language, or worse, acts as leader to the most powerful country in the world without seeming to have a firm grasp of history, economics, global affairs, or much of anything else, I mind. I mind a lot.

But when the events of September 11, 2001, took place, I decided to lay off Bush for a while. I removed the poem "Make the Pie Higher" (composed entirely of idiotic remarks Bush has made 3 ) from my office door and stopped saying unkind things about him. In the days following 9/11, even I had to admit that Bush seemed calm.
It was only later that I saw the seven-minute footage of him reading My Pet Goat while the WTC towers were being hit and began to think that his reaction stemmed from dissociation with reality.

Unfortunately, Bush then did something that horrified me: he decided to go to war with Iraq. He countermanded the UN and the weapons inspection program, bullied our spineless Congress into authorizing the war, ignored our long-time allies, and hornswoggled the American people by suggesting that Iraq posed a threat to us and that Saddam had links to Al-Qaeda.

At the time, though I was still opposed to "pre-emptive" war, I was willing to concede that maybe Bush knew something about weapons of mass destruction that I didn't, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the essentially secular Saddam was probably not in cahoots with radical Islamic fundamentalists, and that there was no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, although a frighteningly high percentage of the American people believed otherwise.

At this point, the role of the media in furthering Bush's agenda became apparent. 4 Instead of asking hard questions about evidence of weapons of mass destruction or questioning Bush's statements about Iraq, the media, even the "liberal" New York Times, basically clammed up. (The Times and others have since apologized for this.)
The media did not publicize the lack of connection between Saddam or Al-Qaeda, nor did anyone seem interested in the fact that some of Bush's advisors, such as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), had publicly advocated making war on Iraq well before 9/11, which strongly suggests that the war had nothing to do with fighting terrorism. 5

Somewhere between 9/11 and today, as I sit here fulminating, I became interested in politics--I'd even say obsessed. Now, I spend hours each day reading a variety of newspapers and websites, and not just "liberal" ones, and recently, God help me, I even started watching CSPAN.

And somewhere along the line, because of what has happened, because I have been paying attention, it's true that I became what I guess you can fairly term a "left-wing zealot."

I'm sorry about this--it's not what I wanted. But it's what happened because I looked around me and I thought long and hard about it, and here's what seemed apparent: our country is temporarily being governed by a bunch of cruel and cynical men (and Condi) whose goal is to enrich corporations, and they will do anything to achieve this goal. They will flatten whole cities (Fallujah), practice torture (Abu Ghraib), lock people up without trial (Guantanamo), abrogate our civil liberties (the Patriot Act), exploit 9/11 (the war in Iraq, the Republican Convention), wage war based on "faulty intelligence" (the famous yellow-cake uranium claim), steal elections (Florida 2000; Ohio and who-knows-where-else 2004), create safe havens for the drug trade in puppet states (Afghanistan), and enrich their own cronies (Halliburton, Bechtel, et al.).

I am appalled by this. Just appalled.

At the present time, Bush views his fairly narrow lead over Kerry and his record-low approval rating as a "mandate" with which he can disembowel social services, allow corporations to foul our environment, abrogate our rights, and ignore his critics. Weeks after the tsunami disaster, Bush is spending $40 million on his inauguration. A January 12, 2005, article in a small Aberdeen, Maryland, newspaper asks for the following: "The Selective Service System is looking for men and women to serve as members of local boards that are currently in a standby mode." 6
You do the math.

I am just one small person, and I write for a newspaper, and I am very angry. Anger is not "hate"--I don't hate Republicans, or even George Bush. I don't hate you, beloved disgruntled reader. I am just really, really upset--about the war, about the souring economy and what its consequences might be, about the threats to civil liberties, education, freedom of speech--and in these dark times, I feel compelled to speak in the only way I can.

Is this left-wing? I guess so. Is it zealotry? Yes.

But I find it impossible to write about ordinary life when every day, people in Iraq--our troops and uncounted numbers of innocent civilians--are being killed in an unwinnable war that seems to me like the logical consequence of the right wing's control of the media and its dominant discourses.

So I feel that I need to take a stand. Because as George W. Bush himself has said, "If you don't stand for anything, you don't stand for anything." 7

_____________________________
1 For an interesting account of this, read Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' The Hunting of the President --or see the movie!

2 For examples, let me refer you to www.bushisms.com, or the many fine books on the subject.

3 www.sablesys.com/pie-high.html

4 For an excellent analysis of rightwing domination of the media, see Robert Parry's "It's the Media, Stupid!" www.consortiumnews.com/2005/010505.html

5 The PNAC even wrote a position paper stating that it would be helpful to have some kind of precipitating crisis in order to rally the public in favor of such a war--although it's no longer there, I read it on their website just after 9/11.

6 www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/news/10625260.htm

7 webster.commnet.edu/grammar/bush.htm
 
Thursday, March 24, 2005
  President Hypocrite
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
by Leutisha Stills

Greetings from the Christian Progressive Liberal. Long time, no post.

Anyway, I thought I would chime in on the Schiavo issue, as well as continue Rep. Mel Watt's streak of pointing out the hypocrisy among his colleagues in the House. He could start with the members of his own party who showed up back in DC on Sunday night and voted for Schiavo having her tube re-inserted. Imagine what those lawmakers would do when faced with a similar dilemma in their own family; they would NOT want anyone, let alone the Federal Government, telling them what to do about a family member in a persistent, vegetative state. That got me to thinking about the overall hypocrisy of this Administration, which BuzzFlash does so well in pointing out to us every day and letting us know that we are still sane and functioning. I posted the following in my diary at DailyKos for your consideration. And as always, stay alert, stay focused, take charge, and God Bless You.

PRESIDENT HYPOCRITE

I think we all know what a hypocrite is. So it shouldn't be a surprise to see hypocrisy running amok on Capitol Hill these days. The Terri Schiavo right-to-live/die issue and the fact that Congress basically flung the concept of checks-and-balances out the window with their "Midnight Run" in rushing through legislation to force this women to continue existing, has, as my late father would say, forced legislators to "show their ass" on this one.

There are many issues that point to the hypocrisy that resides within the man known as George W. Bush. Let's examine some of them, shall we?

He's for freedom of speech and assembly; he even tells Pooty-Poot on that visit to Russia that he better not shut down free press. So why, when he appears in public, here in his beloved "Amurica" his appearances are scripted, no dissent allowed, dissenters are arrested by the Secret Service, and only those who are still drunk on the Kool-Aid are allowed in to essentially fawn at the man's feet?

By the way, we saw Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. take the biggest swig of the Kool-Aid yet last week, when Dubya made a pit stop in Tennessee hawking that losing show known as "Reform Social Security". The elderly weren't buying it and Mr. Ford's Memphis Constituents have been warned. We will have re-hab ready for Mr. Ford, and other drunk members of Congress when they decide to sober up. They will need someplace to go when Dubya sucks them dry and leaves them as politically dead as Ms. Schiavo is brain-dead. Unlike Ms. Schiavo, however, those of us not drunk on the Kool-Aid, can guide Mr. Ford and his ilk through the 12-step program on the road to sobriety.

Dubya goes into other countries and preaches about democracy, when, by every stroke of the pen of Congress, he consistently undermines Constitutional provisions and flips the bird (or give the finger) to the concept of representative government, and constitutionality. Check out the website Watching America to get a sense of how the world really perceives Dubya. They think we are all drunk on the kool-aid, and we are naked to all the world; some of us see it - the boys and girls inside the Beltway do not, and continue running around in some type of mass orgy of power destroying everything and everyone in its path.

He wants to protect Social Security...by borrowing from it to pay off the deficit he ran up like a drunken sailor, and playing the Stock Market like he's Donald Trump. As in most casinos, the people almost never win, but the "house" always wins. Tell that to elderly people who have to decide if they are going to eat or buy medicine, because they won't be getting Medicaid, either, and the Social Security check will be bouncing from here to Texas, cause there's no money to honor it.

He's a "uniter", yet he has done more than any President living or dead, to divide and polarize this country along racial, cultural and class welfare lines in history. Nathan Bedford Forrest would be very proud at GeeDubya's "uniting" the country. He has managed to accomplish what George Wallance, Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott only dreamed of with his "uniting" the country.

He's a "Christian", so where is it Christian to take from the poor and give to the rich? Where is it Christian in his record of no execution order he ever overturned as Texas Governor in sparing a life, since he believes in life? Where is it Christian when you don't want to feed the poor? Where is it being a Christian, when your policies have no provision for social justice? Is it Christ-like to beat down the poor and downtrodden on a daily basis while telling them it's their fault?

Instead, he mocks them, and in turn, us, while taking away what little they do have in the name of "reform". I'm tired of this kind of "compassionate conservatism" cause it's killing me.

The GOP believes in the sanctity of marriage, yet passed a law that essentially tells married couples you don't have a say over how you will operate in your marriage. Gay couples need not apply. Heterosexual couples need to be worried; next, the government will tell you how often you can have sex with your spouse, if they don't get around to choosing your spouse for you, because they think he/she is a good match for you.

Medicare currently pays for Mrs. Schiavo's care - yet Bush and Congress just sent forth a budget that calls for a cut of $60 billion dollars from Medicare. Don't get me started on how "No Child Left Behind" has left every child at the starting lineup.

How are you going to have an "ownership society" if you can't hang on to what you do own because you got sick with a catastrophic illness that forced you to file bankruptcy, and the credit card companies get to send you to debtor's prison because they seized all of your assets, and I mean all of what chump change you managed to squirrel into your child's piggy bank? Better yet, how does one get to be a part of an "ownership society" when your minimum wage job is not keeping up with rates of inflation and the word job really begins to stand for "just-over-broke"?

And a "Compassionate" Congress demonstrates just how compassionate they are; just take a look at the rant in Capitol Hill Blue - under "Congressional Den of Thieves"...they say it better than I ever could. But, Back to GeeDubya...for now. Another day remains for me to take aim at the DLC...

Remember when Karla Faye Tucker, a born-again Christian, pleaded with Bush not to execute her? That she could win souls for Christ, even though she agreed that her punishment should be to remain in jail for the rest of her life? Didn't Bush mock her as he signed her death warrant?

Or the fact that a true born-again Christian, Ashley Smith, exhibited what Jesus would have done, when faced with a rapist in her house who had taken her hostage. She ministered to the man and used the spirit of Christ to persuade the man to turn himself in to police. Yet, this miraculous feat, is getting what, 10 minutes of press coverage, while everyone's wondering about Michael Jackson's court appearances, or what Scott Peterson did on his first day in the Big House.

Bush signed into law a "do-not-resusitate" order in Texas, even over the objections of the parents. Guess when it's an African-American baby, it's appropriate; yet, when Terri Schiavo's parents screamed, he hightails it off that cowchip he calls a ranch back to DC to sign this intrusive bill into law. One wonders if he had been that quick on the draw concerning Bin Laden, would 9/11 have happened?

Or, just in case you missed the racial element in the previous paragraph, one also wonders what would have been the case if Terri Schiavo had been African-American, Asian, Latino or Native American, instead of Caucasian? Would Congress have moved that fast in enacting legislation?

Ten people got shot in a school in Minnesota yesterday. Guess the government can't be bothered with that - because those involved were members of the Chippawa tribe. In other words, let's save the sanctity of life, as long as it's a Caucasian one. Persons of ethnicity or color need not apply.

And let's not forget how a gay prostitute (Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert) managed to masquerade as a journalist for over two years, getting within 10 feet of the President, spouting off homophobic rhetoric, all while holding down his night job as a very expensive piece of homosexual tail for those who could afford to pay (website advertised his, um, "talents" as well as the size of his "tools"). Don't you wonder who (in the White House) is in his little black book, to grant him that access to Valerie Plame, and 9/11 information that never made it to Scarborough Country? Yet DeLay and thugs are defending Gannon to the high heavens...while the Religious Right is so quiet, you can hear mice pissing on cotton.

Meanwhile, the likes of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, et al, are worrying about the sexuality of SpongeBob Squarepants and Tinky-Winky Teletubbies, but you don't have jack to say about Jeff Gannon. Riddle me this: What would Jesus Do? Would He be concerned about the sexuality of cartoon characters, while you give a free pass to a gay prostitute that potentially has information to crash this Administration in ways that Watergate never could do for Nixon?

Speaking of Valerie Plame, you wonder why, if Joe Scarborough knows things aren't passing the smell test, then why isn't a warrant being issued for Robert Novak's arrest in committing treason by deliberately revealing an undercover CIA operative, for no other valid reason than to administer payback to Joe Wilson, because he wasn't being a "Team Player"?

Our government is run by hypocrites. Our legislative branch is filled with hypocrites and a cockroach (DeLay) to boot. (My apologies to the insect kingdom for equating members of your species with an individual that is deserving of his own species outside of the human race!) Our judicial system is fighting to retain the last vestige of democracy, while DeLay, Frist and Hastert strong-arms the rest of Congress to piss in their mouths of the judiciary and tell them that it's lemonade! Our Executive Branch went to the Dark Side years ago, and have gone so far, Luke Skywalker and Yoda would need to team up with Jabba the Hut to retrieve them. You know how the guards in a prison on death row, calls out when the condemned man is coming through "Dead Man Walking!"? Well, call our current government, and it's Congressional members "Hypocrites Walking!"

And Gee Dubya is the President, so call him "President Hypocrite", since he is Lord and Master of all he surveys.

My name is Leutisha Stills and I am the Christian Progressive Liberal.

... and my name is Gar and I say Amen! Thanks Leutisha.
 
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
  If Jesus returned ...
If Jesus returns, Karl Rove will kill him
by Harvey Wasserman

As we enter another Easter Season, it's become all too obvious that if Christ returns, those who hate in his name will slime him, then kill him.

Christ was a long-haired peace activist who would have been sickened to his soul by the war in Iraq. "Blessed are the peacemakers" Jesus said in his defining Sermon on the Mount. "Turn the other cheek...Love thy neighbor."

Such hippie-radical ideals are the "Christian" right wing's worst nightmare. The GOP would never tolerate an upstart like Jesus gathering a following in the face of their corporate-fundamentalist crusade. These are self-proclaimed Christians who love power but would despise the actual Christ, just as they love a Zionist Israel but believe actual Jews are doomed to Hell.

In the wake of Jesus's inspiring life of non-violent rebellion, a perverse liturgy weighted by twenty centuries of intolerant bloodthirsty bigotry has erupted in his name. Attacks on people of color, on nations with oil, on humans of the same gender who love each other, on youth who enjoy sex….all have become staples of a new fundamentalist crusade doing in Christ's name things that would have left him horrified.

In large part through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus came to be viewed as Divine because he spoke eloquently for a gracious, loving God.

Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, George Bush and their corporate-fundamentalist minions speak to and for a very different kind of God, one at war with the Deity described by Christ.

Bush-Rove's Master is a spiteful dictator, defined by hate and greed, intolerance and hypocrisy.

Christ kicked the moneychangers out of the temple. Today's Republicans have enshrined them.

Christ spoke of a God of compassion and joy.

Today's "religious" right wingers worship Meanness of Spirit, a greed-driven war-loving totalitarianism. The only way to salvation, they say is THEIR way, through a nature-hating Authority that tramples all Jesus preached.

As Tecumseh, the great Shawnee spirit-warrior, allegedly shouted at William Henry Harrison in the early 1800s: "When Jesus Christ came upon the Earth, you killed him. The son of your own God. And only after he was dead did you worship him and start killing those who would not. "

If Christ came back today to resume preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Karl Rove would slime him in the media, then kill him outright, then turn his words into conservative hatespeak, then kill those who refuse to follow in his name.

If Christ came back to organize against Bush's war, Rove's pet bloviators would shriek about Mary Magdalene. Isn't that her next to Christ in DaVinci's "Last Supper"? Wasn't she pregnant with Christ's bastard child. Who let her catch his blood dripping from the cross?

Rush Limbaugh would demand to how this "Son of God" could have a relationship out of wedlock? Who was he to feed loaves and fishes to the undeserving poor, prolonging the existence of inferior racial stock? Who said he could attack those moneychangers who are the Elect of God and the sponsors of Rush's air time?

Then O'Reilly would slime the Easter thing. A self-anointed "peace prophet" rising from the tomb? Poppycock, he'd say. Just another pinko hippie terrorist conspiracy theory.

But if Christ persisted, and built a following like, say, Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez or Nelson Mandela…well….they'd kill him.

They'd blame a patsy, like, say the Jews, or the terrorists, or the Willie Hortons. They'd designate a straw man to take the fall for the assassination.

Rove would cloud his death in shadowy scandal. Stories would surface of unconfirmed debts. Or tainted investments. Maybe something about hashish, no stranger to the region.

Hannity would feature some jilted lovers. There'd be rumors Jesus was gay. Talk of a love triangle. Ugly gossip about Mary and Judas. False leads about Jews wanting him dead. New doubts about that "virgin birth."

Whatever it would take to slime the sheen off an anti-war "Son of God" and to turn his death tawdry, Rove would do.

But would Jesus stand for the slaughter of 100,000 Iraqis in his name for oil and dubious Biblical prophecy? What would Christ think about a president in love with the torture chamber and electric chair? What would Jesus, who hated hypocrisy, say about a Bush who scampers back to prolong the life of a brain-dead woman, but who gleefully executed 150 people as governor and still more as president? How would Jesus cope with a self-proclaimed Divinity demanding the death penalty for children?

And what would Jesus say about torture in American prisons, where much the same is being done to innocent inmates as was done to Christ himself on the way to Calvary? Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" could serve as a documentary of the daily torture and slaughter among the 2.2 million prisoners held in the US military and civilian gulag, a barbaric prison system that makes the Romans' seem benign by comparison.

Systematic sexual abuse by both prison guards and Catholic priests? The wholesale slaughter of Iraqi children? The debasement by corporate money of both church and state?

Christ would lead the non-violent charge against these cornerstones of GOP rule---until Rove killed him.

What would Jesus do about gay marriage? "Love they neighbor," he'd say.

What business is it of those who use his name, he would ask, to prolong bigotry and intolerance just as 50 years ago those same cynical haters claimed Biblical sanction for laws preventing people of different colors from marrying one another.

Christ would never stand for such bigotry. So Karl Rove would have him killed.

Hitler claimed Christ was an Aryan supremacist. Now Rove, DeLay & company use him to sell dictatorial, greed-driven, gay-hating, war loving hypocrisy.

Easter says otherwise. It should remind us that if Jesus returned to preach the Gandhian love-thy-neighbor subversion with which he challenged the Romans, Karl Rove would do what Pontius Pilate did.

But Rove would be better at the spin.

--
HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US can be found here. as can his GLIMPSE OF THE BIG LIGHT: LOSING PARENTS, FINDING SPIRIT.
 
Monday, March 21, 2005
  Terri Schiavo and the Republican Meat Grinder
If you actually believe that the hustle and bustle in the US Congress this weekend was about Terri Schiavo then I just don’t know a gentler way of breaking this to you: you are the one born every minute that P. T. Barnum was talking about in his famous quote. And if anyone tells me about “Compassionate Conservatism” I’ve got a story about a man called Santa Claus that you are going to love.

But first, let me tell you about something that happened last week in Texas. Last week in Texas a baby was pulled off life support against his mother’s wishes. Why? Because of a bill signed into effect in 1999 by then Texas Governor George W. Bush. That bill granted hospitals the right to cut off life support in cases where patients are physically AND MENTALLY alive but the prognosis is so poor that further care is deemed to be futile – if that patient has no way to pay his or her medical expenses.

The mother couldn’t pay the bill. Further care of the baby was deemed to be futile by the hospital, so under Bush’s law, they pulled all life support. Where was President Bush last week? Where was the National Right to Life Committee? Where were the “Compassionate Conservatives?” Where were the religious right-to-lifers? Where were the special congressional sessions? Lastly, Where was Tom DeLay? Could it be that saving that baby just wasn’t politically expedient because it hadn’t been making national news for years?

Just like politics had nothing to do with that baby’s life, it has nothing to do with the life of Terri Schiavo either. What it has to do with is throwing a bone to the Christian voters who voted Republican last November thinking they were voting for ethics and morality and instead, got homosexual prostitutes in the Whitehouse and social programs to feed the sick and hungry gutted one after the other. It has to do with the fear of losing 25 Republican House seats in the 2006 elections. It has to do with the smoke and mirrors so aptly used by the present administration to cover scandal and abuse of power.

According to Robert Novak, analysts at the RNC sent a memo to the House of Representatives stating that the GOP is in danger of losing 25 seats in the 2006 election. The Schiavo case "is a great political issue" for Republicans, an unsigned letter from a consultant to Republican senators sent out this weekend said. Does that sound like this is about Terri Schiavo's life or the life of anyone else on life support or does it sound more like it is about the life of this GOP-ruled congress?

No, I don’t believe in “Compassionate Conservatism” anymore than I believe in Santa Claus. I do believe in the practice of political expediency by the Neocons no matter who it hurts, who it uses, or who gets chewed up in the process. My thoughts are with the family of Terri Schiavo – all of them. I am just so sorry they have fallen into the meat grinder the Republican Party has become.
 
Friday, March 18, 2005
  Crown Jewels for Sell
As I mentioned in my last post, the U.S. Senate just voted to allow oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge. The margin of victory was close but decisive -- 51 to 49.

The Senate has essentially given George W. Bush the green light to plunder one of our few remaining wild places. The sad truth is, drilling in the Arctic will not solve our energy problem and it certainly won't do any thing to help the recent hike in prices at pump. Drilling there will only produce enough petroleum to fuel U.S. cars for six months at best, and the first drop of oil won't reach the market for ten years!

In addition, the sneaky way this was done sets a very bad precedent. By counting the rents received from the oil companies as income in the present budget, the Neocons were able to tack the bill on to the budget as an amendment. Ordinarily, it would have taken sixty votes to pass the drilling bill; by tacking onto the budget bill as income, it only required 51 votes to pass because that is all it takes to pass the budget.

Why is this a bad precedent? Well, suppose next time Bush has a buddy in the logging business who would like some redwood lumber. By counting the sell of the redwoods in Yosemite as part of the Budget, 51 votes and the redwood forests in Yosemite National Park would be history. Or, maybe we could just stripmine the Grand Canyon. There is copper there after all and we could probably get a few bucks for it. And what about the geothermal energy that is just going to waste every day in Yellowstone. Surely Old Faithful is worth a few dollars to some developer. See, once you start thinking about it, the possiblities are only limited by lack of greed and greed is something that Neocons seem to have in endless amounts.

If you find this as appalling as I do, there is still one thing that can be done; email your Congressman in the House of Representatives and ask them to remove the artic drilling amendment from the Budget Bill. This is our last chance. If they don't remove that amendment and kick it back to the senate, you can kiss the Artic Wilderness Eco system goodbye.

Click here to take action now.

Here's how our Senators voted. If your senator didn't vote the way you think they should, let them know about it.

(Cantwell Amdt. No. 168)
Vote Number: 52
Vote Date: March 16, 2005, 01:45 PM
Amendment Rejected
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 168 to S.Con.Res. 18 (Appropriations resolution FY2006, Budget)
Statement of Purpose: To strike section 201(a)(4) relative to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Note: A "Nay" vote means approve Arctic drilling. A "Yea" vote means, stop Arctic drilling by stripping a section from the budget bill.

Akaka (D-HI), Nay
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Allard (R-CO), Nay
Allen (R-VA), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Nay
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Nay
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Nay
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burns (R-MT), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Chafee (R-RI), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Corzine (D-NJ), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Dayton (D-MN), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Nay
Domenici (R-NM), Nay
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Frist (R-TN), Nay
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Nay
Hagel (R-NE), Nay
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Jeffords (I-VT), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Landrieu (D-LA), Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Nay
Lugar (R-IN), Nay
Martinez (R-FL), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Santorum (R-PA), Nay
Sarbanes (D-MD), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Nay
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Stevens (R-AK), Nay
Sununu (R-NH), Nay
Talent (R-MO), Nay
Thomas (R-WY), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Warner (R-VA), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Yea
 
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
  Nuking the Filibuster
The golden chalice of American ideologues is to load the Supreme Court with appointees that adhere to the same principles and beliefs as the ideologues themselves. Only the president can make a Supreme Court nomination. The Senate must approve that nomination. The approval does not even require a majority vote because if the vote splits 50/50, the vice-president gets to cast the tie-breaking vote. If there is a single soul in the United States, or anywhere else in the world, who thinks Cheney would vote against a Bush appointee for Supreme Court, hold up your hand – uhmmm – people who work for FOX or Rupert Murdock don’t count.
.
Now consider: A) In the last election, millions more people voted for Democratic Senators than voted for Republican Senators. As we all know though, senators are not elected by nationwide popular vote but by statewide popular vote, thus it is possible to have a majority of one party controlling the senate that actually represents a minority of people. Such is the case with the present Senate.

And consider B) All rulings made by the Supreme Court apply to all the people all the time. As they demonstrated in the 2000 election, they can even dictate who becomes president. Considering that once they are on the court, they are on there for life and considering the power that they wield, this is not a decision to be made lightly.

So given A and B above, the only choice the minority Democratic Senators have is to do what every minority party in the Senate has done for two hundred years – filibuster – the means of last resort to reach a reasonable compromise with the majority party. The NeoCons however, lead by Bush, Rove and Cheney, are not willing to compromise. Like a bully on a school yard, everything must be their way so they’ve come up with what has become known as the “nuclear option.”

A filibuster, originally implemented to protect minority rights and to promote compromise, works like this: If at least 41 senators strongly oppose a bill or a nominee, they can vote to continue debate indefinitely, and so, block a final vote. A final vote can be taken if 60 senators vote to end the filibuster. Since there are 100 senators, these two options are mutually exclusive.

In actual practice, what this means is that instead of 51 votes to confirm a nominee, 60 votes might be needed if the nominee is too far out of the mainstream. This has worked well for 200 years. Our leaders have supported the filibuster tradition to promote cooperation and compromise. It is a tradition that recognizes that the Senate majority doesn’t always represent the majority of Americans.

The so-called “nuclear option,” on the other hand, is a radical tactic thought up by the NeoCons to ensure the confirmation of extremist judicial nominees that agree with their ideology by prohibiting senators from using filibusters to force a compromise. Republicans have already taken the first step in the “nuclear option.” Bush reappointed 12 nominees for federal judgeships that were previously rejected for these posts by the Senate as unfit.

The rest of the trap will be sprung something like this: A Republican Senator will try to force a confirmation vote on one of these nominees – probably the most right wingnut of them all, undoubtedly provoking a filibuster by the minority. A Republican Senator will then object. He will claim that a filibuster cannot be used on a judicial nominee. Who ever is presiding over the Senate, probably Vice President Cheney, will rule in favor of the Republican majority. This would most likely be followed by an appeal to the full Senate. A 50/50 split would be enough for the republicans to win because Cheney would cast a tie-breaking vote. The ruling would then be upheld and the filibuster against judicial nominees would be history.

Is this legal and proper? Sort of .... The procedure followed is proper but followed for an improper reason. According to Senate rules, it takes 67 senators to end debate on changing a Senate rule. This procedure violates that rule by changing a rule requiring only 50 “yes” votes from the senate. The Democrats would have few options though. They could appeal to the Supreme Court (the same court that “elected” Bush in 2000) or they could stonewall every piece of business that came before the senate causing a “nuclear winter” in government. Either way, the school yard bullies will have gotten what they wanted with no thought for the future consequences.

------Oddly enough, just as I was writing that last line, I received notice that the senate had voted to open the Alaska Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling – talk about no thought for future consequences ....
 
Samizdat: an underground system for the circulation of forbidden works of literature and political criticism in the Soviet era of Russia.

Name:
Location: Arkansas, United States

Angry, angry, angry ... but still, any day above ground is a good day.