Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Never Thought I Would Miss Nixon……Then Again

I saw the following bumper sticker the other day that brought a smile to my lips:

I Never Thought I Would Miss Nixon

What brought the smile was the shear amount of truth in those seven words. Yes, George W. Bush has done what I would have thought impossible. He made me miss Tricky Dick in all his ugly glory. When Nixon was in power, I was firmly convinced that there could never be another President as bad. With Georgie, I have discovered there not only could be as bad but there is worse. Nixon inherited his war, Vietnam; it was a full bore going tragedy when he took office. He also claimed, falsely, to have a secret peace plan. He got many killed needlessly, both military and civilian. Bush is the middle of a quagmire of his own making and insistence that we stay there with him. Nixon had a lust for power but it was tempered by a certain respect for the office of President that Bush rarely even bothers to pretend to have.

Nixon was swept into office on a landslide in 1972. Bush squeaked by in both 2000 and 2004. From these two statements alone, one would assume that Nixon was the one with more absolute power. And one would be wrong. What the driver of the truck with the bumper sticker and I really miss, is a Congress that keeps the system in balance. Congress during the Nixon years was controlled by the Democrats thus preventing the establishment of King Dick. The Republican Congress of the last six years has anointed King George.

I was going to an out of state college in 1972 and had to vote absentee. Absentee ballots had to be witnessed by a notary in those days so a dorm mate and I walked over to the Student Union to get our ballots notarized before mailing. He told me he was voting for Nixon because McGovern was just too radical. I tried to argue that voting for Nixon was a mistake because look at all the bad crap he had pulled during his first term. My friend said not to worry because even though he was voting for Nixon, his Congressional votes were for Democrats to keep Nixon in line. He proved to be right. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

The current Congress has nearly abdicated all their power and turned it over to the Executive branch. We now have the closest thing to a unitary Executive that we have ever had in our history. The Patriot Act and the Torture & Detainee Act are America’s first steps analogous to the 1930’s Enabling Acts of Nazi Germany. The country now exists at a critical crossroads. Elections are not football games. It is not a matter of rooting for the winner, it is a matter of if we want the Republic to endure or collapse under the weight of political expediency. Patriots, no matter what their normal political leanings, must examine objectively the actions of this President and this Congress. We don’t vote for President until 2008 but we have the chance in three weeks to decisively affect the Congress. We need a government of three branches not one. We must give up on the idea that our local guy is not as bad as the rest of them, so it doesn’t hurt to vote for him. That attitude and many similar ones is what brought us to this juncture in the first place. We must vote for a change, and the only viable choice is a Democratic Congress before it is too late.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mark Foley, A Different View: A Misdirection Ploy

I have a different point of view on the Mark Foley scandal. I believe it is one of the greatest misdirection ploys of all time by Rove and the Republicans. Coincidences may happen but rarely do they happen with such good results. You say, “What good results?” Lost in all this discussion about Foley is the fact that Senate Bill 3930, “A bill to authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes,” has gone to the President to sign. Even though Bush got damned near everything he wanted in the bill, his proclivity for signing statements will make up for any perceived inadequacies. Incumbents on both sides of the aisle can more easily deflect criticism about Foley’s peccadilloes than they can defend supporting this reversal of the Magna Carta.

Lost in all this discussion of how this hurts the Republican cause is no critical examination of the timing of this scandal. A month ago, most liberals and Democrats were outraged about ABC showing the crapudrama, “The Path to 9/11.” While ABC made some changes to this piece of propaganda, it still left many with the impression that 9/11 was all Bill Clinton’s fault and Bush was in the clear. Can we believe that ABC changed their stripes in one short month? I say, “NO!” ABC has a stake in remaining in the administration’s good graces. ABC would not have released the Foley story without at least the tacit approval of the White House.

I cannot believe for a moment that Rove and company would have any compunction about sacrificing Foley to pay for this integral part of consolidating Bush’s power. I mean here was a GAY Republican House member just waiting to be outed, why not kill two birds with one stone. Bird one: Deflect attention away the detainee and torture law. Those who voted for the bill are not going to be held to account for their vote as they might have. Most can easily deflect any criticisms cast their way about Foley. Bird two: The albatross that was Foley is eliminated. The Republicans have already claimed the reason Foley didn’t get in trouble earlier was they did not to appear to be “Gay Bashing.” The Republicans are such homophobes they still believe homosexual and pedophile are synonymous. This was the perfect opportunity to look good to their base and fence sitters that they were cleaning “House” of undesirables.

I am now going to ask any that read this to step through the fog of Republican misdirection. It is time to ask this Congress, why what little you did do, was so dismal. I have researched the final roll call votes on the detainee and torture bill. Most members of Congress voted along party lines as might be expected. Many Republicans voting for the bill said they expected reversal by the courts and voted for the bill out political expediency. I guess I am a minority of one that believes this is a violation of their oath of office to defend and support the Constitution. Those who did not vote along party lines deserve special recognition and consideration in three categories:

These Republicans had the convictions of their beliefs to vote against this step to tyranny.
In the Senate, 1 Senator:
Chafee (RI)
In the House, 7 Representatives:
Bartlett (MD-6)
Gilchrest (MD-1)
Jones (NC-3)
LaTourette (OH-14)
Leach (IA-2)
Moran (KS-1)
Paul (TX-14)

These Democrats supported this step to tyranny. I would assume from political expediency, with many using the same excuse as Republicans, it would be reversed by the courts. The 12 from the Senate are particularly troubling, since this many defections made any chance of a filibuster nil.
In the Senate, 12 Senators:
Carper (DE)
Johnson (SD)
Landrieu (LA)
Lautenberg (NJ)
Lieberman (CT)
Menendez (NJ)
Nelson (FL)
Nelson (NE)
Pryor (AR)
Rockefeller (WV)
Salazar (CO)
Stabenow (MI)
In the House, 34 Representatives:
Andrews (NJ-1)
Barrow (GA-12)
Bean (IL-8)
Bishop (GA-2)
Boren (OK-2)
Boswell (IA-3)
Boyd (FL-2)
Brown (OH-13)
Chandler (KY-6)
Cramer (AL-5)
Cuellar (TX-28)
Davis (AL-7)
Davis (TN-4)
Edwards (TX-17)
Etheridge (NC-2)
Ford (TN-9)
Gordon (TN-6)
Herseth (SD-At Large)
Higgins (NY-27)
Holden (PA-17)
Marshall (GA-23)
Matheson (UT-2)
McIntyre (NC-7)
Melancon (LA-3)
Michaud (ME-2)
Moore (KS-3)
Peterson (MN-7)
Pomeroy (ND-At Large)
Ross (AR-4)
Salazar (CO-3)
Scott (GA-13)
Spratt (SC-5)
Tanner (TN-8)
Taylor (MS-4)

These lawmakers come from both sides of the aisle. They couldn’t be bothered with voting on this step to tyranny.
In the Senate, 1 Senator:
Snowe (R-ME)
In the House, 12 Representatives:
Castle (R-DE-At Large)
Cleaver (D-MI-5)
Davis (D-FL-11)
Davis (R-VA-11)
Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18)
Keller (R-FL-8)
Lewis (D-GA-5)
Meehan (D-MA-5)
Millender-McDonald (D-CA-37)
Ney (R-OH-18)
Radanovich (R-CA-19)
Strickland (D-OH-6)

Please examine these “Halls” and give special attention to any of them that represent you. Encourage those in the Hall of Bravery and hold feet to the fire from the other two. I am especially troubled by the 46 Democrats in the Hall of Shame. Even if they win reelection and the Democrats take numerical control of the Congress, are these 46 reliable enough not to cross party lines and give the Republicans the majority on a whim.

Monday, October 09, 2006


In the days before cable news, there was a term for election year tax cuts. It was “Priming the Pump.” The thinking was very simple; give the people a taste of their own hard-earned money, and tell them if they want it to continue they must return the incumbents to office. That particular ploy would not be effective with this regime however, since all their tax breaks have been for the limited numbers of the very rich.

Today’s version of this carries a completely new literal meaning. Prices for gasoline have dropped over a dollar from their highest point in the last year. Gas pumps are literally being primed for the upcoming elections. It appears the thinking goes something like this: If the voter only pays $2.159/gal when he was paying $3.199/gal, he will figure he needs to keep the incumbent in office in order to keep the price low. The problem with the voter thinking that is, he is very liable to find a new meaning to the term “November Surprise.” There are really no guarantees or even promises the prices will stay low.

This downward trend defies the rules of supply and demand. The Alaskan Pipeline in the last 9 weeks has had major problems and the supply of oil from this domestic (meaning cheaper) source has been severely restricted. If anything the price of oil should be going up not down, if it were truly a matter of supply and demand. When this subject first occurred to me, I went and checked to see if we were dumping oil onto the market from the country’s strategic reserve. If their website is to be believed, we are not doing that. The other possibility is that the oil companies and their cartel, OPEC, have decided they could afford to forego their obscene profit levels for a short period to ensure the continuing of the current single party rule.

In my research, I found protestations that the oil industry was just too large for such manipulations. All these protests of impotence came from incumbent Republicans. There is a reason we call OPEC a cartel, they can do whatever they damn well please. If any single member decides to get greedy, the others can flood the market and ruin the renegade’s profit level. If a member decides to undercut his fellow cartel members, he could well find himself without spare parts or transportation. This is not a play nice group. The United States represent their largest single market. It is in their self interest to keep oil friendly politicians in power, even it means not making a billion or two for a couple of months. They can always make up for it in spades on the other side of the election.

I found an alternate theory at http://deconsumption.typepad.com/deconsumption/2006/09/running_on_empt.html

I would like to “restate” what Mr. King said: What this means folks, is that hedge funds and institutional money that “TRACKS THE INDEX” were FORCED TO SELL 75% of their gasoline futures to conform with the reconstituted GSCI. And if anyone hasn’t noticed the timing of the price of the gasoline price collapse…just in time for November’s Mid Term Elections!

So don’t be fooled into believing that potential energy shortages have “magically been solved.” In all likelihood – much of the recent decline in the price of gasoline we have all “welcomed” has been the result of paper tricks being played on what amounts to a wealthy flock of sheep.

No matter who is doing the manipulating;
Voting for the incumbents that have screwed us and lied to us in the past only allows them to do it again.