Aug 29, 2006

Katrina One Year Later: The Bush Government's Fly-over Continues

Decisions We Make Collectively Affect us in a Very Personal Way

It’s been one year since we witnessed another inconvenient truth in New Orleans. Americans were abandoned by their government when a predicted natural disaster—hurricane Katrina—hit the Gulf states. Had we not known, many of us would not accept that the scenes we saw during this catastrophe could have been of these United States in the 21st century. FEMA—the once great disaster relief agency—has been shrank into a club of incompetent political appointees. The conservatives’ strategy to shrink the government so much that it can drown in a bathtub is working very well, unless you count all those people who drown (many literally) because they happen to be “less privileged.”

Barbara Bush (mother of current president and wife of the former president) upon visiting those people said, “Most of them were underprivileged anyway… so this is working quite well for them.” I can’t help but wonder whether there would have been the same response from the government if Katrina had devastated a rich town in Texas...

I’d like to repeat an earlier observation I made in this post right after the hurricane last year, “Our government failed us miserably. Of course we have a right to be angry and demand punishment of those responsible--though, some punishing we have to do ourselves via the ballot box next year and beyond. It is utterly unacceptable that incompetence may have cost more lives than the terrorists managed to kill in their World Trade attacks. Where is the so-called culture of life?

Isn't our elected government responsible for safeguarding us? But, politics, again, is the determinant factor. Elections have consequences and people have to learn this. Voting for someone is not only a right but a responsibility too. The higher the office the more careful the voter must be. We can't vote for a president of these United States like we order a cheeseburger, or, vote for the person whose company we'd prefer over a couple pints of beer. These are important decisions to be made, decisions that affect us all!”

Because the Bush administration’s “Ministry of Truth” is already revising history, it’s worth checking this timeline of the Katrina disaster as created by because we must remember and learn from this awful experience.

Finally, I’d like to include this commentary by Bob Schieffer,
"Arrogance is galling enough, but it was the next story by [CBS news correspondent] Allen Pizzey that really set me off. He reported that Hezbollah agents are on the streets of Southern Lebanon handing out U.S. dollars to people whose homes were bombed out.

One year after Katrina and we can't figure out how to get money to people who lost their homes in New Orleans, we're still not sure if it can survive another hurricane but a terrorist group has figured out how to get American money to the homeless in Lebanon?

Talk about threats to national security – how about government so big, so complicated and so unmanageable, it can't get out of its own way?

That's what scares me."

This fly-over president and his cohorts have made America (and much of the world) less secure. We’re paying a very high price for incompetence, and for the actions of the lunatic fringe that has captured power and the Republican party. This is a very hard way to learn a lesson in civic responsibility—at least, I hope, we are learning. Americans have rushed to help victims of natural disasters, but our government has wasted billions of our money through incompetence and abundant corruption.

I ask, what is every citizen’s duty? Has every member of this commonwealth done something to make sure we have the best available people to manage our public affairs? To safeguard our rights and civil liberties? To leave this planet to our children in the same condition if not better than when we inherited it? Has every American become a better ..BS detector?

PS. I know it takes some time and effort to be an active & engaged citizen, but the alternative is just what we’ve got today… quite horrible and unworthy of our nation if you ask me!

Aug 20, 2006

Bush & Company In Same League With a $5 Tarot Card Reader!

But Some Deceptions Are More Harmful Than Others.
Things that elate me last a very long time in my memory. Unfortunately, things that bother me--like when I'm told big lies--also stick around in my mind, as if they're labeled "enemy combatants" and held for an indefinite period of time! So, when the other day, the US's war in Iraq surpassed our involvement in WW2 [1,241 days, from 12/1941 to 5/1945], then some painful memories surfaced! Let's reminisce together. This is what BushCo's regime told the nation:

"I don't know how long the war will last... it could last 6 days, 6 weeks, I doubt 6 months!" US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, 2/7/03. "I think it'll go relatively quickly... in weeks rather than in months." and, "I think we'll be greeted as liberators!" US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, 3/16/03.

But, what's this?.. "I don't know anybody who had any reasonable expectations about the number or the length of the war or the cost of the war. I just don't... No one I know went out and said these are how those three metrics ought to be considered. And you can take it to the bank." 12/08/1005 Really, Mr. Secretary?... [here's a link, and another one]

As for the costs, initially we we told the war would cost the US taxpayers about $1.7 billion! Later, the ceiling was pushed to $50 billion when the administration was still telling us that Iraq's own oil would pay for the rest. We've spent upwards of $350 billion (many billions wasted and some just ..disappeared!) thus far with a total cost estimated close to a trillion dollars! Yes, that's our money, your kids money, and the debt we're carrying on the national credit card.

As for the result of this expensive & very bloody national expedition, who can really say that America or the world is safer today? Iraq has become the training ground of terrorists. The country has plunged into a civil war, further destabilizing the whole region. Most people in the world believe the US is a greater destabilizing force than any terrorist organization, and the US image/moral authority has declined precipitously.

We were told about the connection between Saddam and AlQueda. That Saddam had connections to and even helped Osama to carry out the attacks on 9-11. Most Americans believed their leaders. The Bush administration exploited & manipulated Americans' feelings for revenge after 9-11. It exploited the feelings of patriotism. Many Americans wanted revenge; many wanted to feel safe again, so they were willing to believe anything! So, they gave the keys to a blind man who promptly crashed the car.

Now the gang that led us into this mess is trying to revise history like in "1984"... Big Brother always revised history to fit his policies. BushCo tells us today that they never made any ..predictions! Please, not only they did predict but their performance was worse than a tarot card reader at a Jersey shore boardwalk. And, the latter's services only cost five bucks! [walk-in special]

Any self-respecting clairvoyant medium wouldn't be so specific especially on verifiable facts :

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Cheney, 8/26/02. And, "We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon." US National Security Advisor (and later Secretary of State) Condie Rice, 9/8/02.

And, "..the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Rumsfeld, 5/30/03.

Bush, Rummie, Condie, Powell, Tenet, Franks, Bremer, Fleisher, and so many others lied, lied, lied, and, they all got promotions, medals, and highest awards for a job well done! They are responsible no matter how you slice the issue. Perhaps they were utterly incompetent (which they are) believing they were doing the right thing. But, heck, what's this?... "60 Minutes: CIA Official Reveals Bush, Cheney, Rice Were Personally Told Iraq Had No WMD in Fall 2002" No! They wouldn't take a country like the United States into a costly war on a pack of lies & deception. Would they?

But who could really forget this:
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! President G.W. Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 at 9:00PM EST.

Editor's note: Liberal Citizen has obtained the services of world-known and Nobel Prize-nominated clairvoyant PYTHIA who has decreed that every person who supports this blog with a monetary donation will achieve perfect health & great fortune. Do this often and generously. It's for your own good!

Aug 17, 2006

Who Dares to Question the Wisdom of Our Big Brother?

A Federal Judge Rules Against El Presidente and his Warrantless Spying!
If someone asked you to name a country today that can arrest people, torture them, keep them incarcerated without a charge for an indefinite time, without legal representation, without any contact to the outside world, where that country's citizens could be spied upon without any legal warrant, then which country would it come to mind? That government would also argue that the courts have no jurisdiction or that questioning its actions would "weaken the country" and that the "state secrets doctrine" should prevent judicial review!

The Bush administration has repeatedly shown a gross disregard of our constitution, especially the First and Fourth Amendments (part of the Bill of Rights). Following a lawsuit [click to download the pdf file], a federal judge has ordered a stop to the warrantless (read: illegal) NSA eavesdropping program! Hopefully el Presidente will abide by this decision but don't hold your breath. This do-nothing Congress isn't willing to play its constitutional role in our checks & balances political system, so it's up to the courts to restore some sanity into the madness & destruction brought by BushCo. Oh, by the way, the answer to the rhetorical question above: it's the US! Draw your own conclusions.

Now, if the chief executive doesn't want to abide by the law, we have a problem. The president will probably seek and likely get an injunction for a stay. An appeals court will re-examine the case and the losing side will push the case to the Supreme Court. The latter is the sole arbiter on what cases to accept and rule on. However, SCOTUS has ruled several times against the administration's claims of "executive privilege" and "state secrets."

These days I'm teaching a couple summer courses at a local college and I'm discussing the First Amendment: Freedom of expression. It includes freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly & association, right to petition the government, etc. Freedom of expression is an indispensable condition for all other freedoms. The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable search & seizures, so we can be safe in our own domains & possessions, without government's intrusion. Oh, and when the government intrudes it needs a warrant! That's according to our constitution--you know, that document which gave liberal freedoms to people in America and which made other people to long for the rights we enjoyed here!

I'm also discussing George Orwell's 1984, the political allegory about a system where Big Brother "knows best" and intrudes into every aspect of human activity. The use of the "enemy out there" [or the devil/evil if you prefer] who's ready to destroy you... unless you behave in a certain, authority-sanctioned way! What most people don't realize is that once they give up a freedom--in order to safeguard "other freedoms"--it's extremely hard to get it back. Further, the talk about unity through conformity and safety through excessive governmental powers is for the weak-minded, not for free thinkers and responsible citizens!

We can have national unity through diversity, critical inquiry, tolerance, and an open dialogue. As a matter of fact, open societies are stronger and have happier citizens. Why happier you ask? Because it is through freedom an individual can realize his/her potential! If your speech, movements and anything private are monitored, you change your behavior. Authoritarian regimes are bad, if for nothing else, for the kind of people they produce. When our government does not respect our freedoms, it also does not respect us. Admittedly, too often people have been immature or unwilling to be in control of themselves and of their government.

We liberals appreciate liberty and freedom not in the abstract but in line with a utilitarian principle. It makes sense to pursue activities that promote happiness and self-fulfillment, does it not? Since most of us have a functioning brain and are able to think critically, why not exercise our most precious faculties? Obviously every person can decides for himself how to live, but, to me, Big Brother's policies are a brutal suppression of individualism and freedom and, thus, are unacceptable.

You know, being safe from the ..Devil or all enemies does not mean anything to me if I'm not safe from Big Brother! Many conservatives are weak-minded, unimaginative, scared [remember: the politics of fear, the "war on terror" that has no fronts & end!], have authority issues, and are what the philosopher I. Kant described, living in "perpetual immaturity" by allowing others to make decisions for them. Otherwise, how come so many of them are willing to accept that 2+2=5...

"..But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." From 1984.

And thus, all Winstons everywhere finally accept that two plus two equals five!

Aug 8, 2006

Lieberman, a Sore Loser, Doesn't Get it. But the Message is Clear!

Lamont is a winner. Losers include the DC consultants & Dem party insiders, the Republicans, and old politics.

True to his political character, Joe Lieberman will not respect the Democrats' choice and vowed to run as an "independent" in Connecticut. The real Democrat won however and that's good news, especially under the conditions it occured. To begin with, it is very unusual to defeat a incumbent Senator absent any scandal. Granted, the activist base of the Democratic party is more liberal, but the netroots, grassroots and the progressives did make a huge difference in this race. Consider that the D.C. club--all those power brokers within the party--endorsed & campaigned for Joe who outspent Ned Lamont by $4-5 million! Oh, and that Ned was virtually unknown just 5-6 months ago!

"For the sake of my state, my country and my party, I cannot, I will not let these results stand," an angry Lieberman told us. Hopefully, it won't be up to him, because the voters of CT should remind him again in November that he does not own a seat in the US Senate. The turnout, close to 50%, in this primary neared or matched the turnout of a presidential election! [normally it's like 5% if there's no real race or maybe 20% if it's a contested seat] He is bolstered by polls showing him winning comfortably in a three-person race (against Lamont and a Republican), but I don't buy this. I predict that Lieberman will lose to Lamont in November, that is, if Joe stays in the race. Lieberman will keep sliding in the polls as the people of CT will become more familiar with Lamont. The Dem party will have to fall behind the Dem nominee. Many of us are already asking the Democratic leadership to strip Lieberman of all party privileges and committee memberships. Those Dems, like Bill Clinton and the other CT Senator Chris Dodd (and a presidential aspirant), who campaigned for Joe must now publicly come out to endorse and actively campaign for Ned Lamont. Hillary, an early Joe supporter, just came out for Ned and sent him $5,000 for his campaign! Perhaps Bill and others can lean on Joe to drop out and not further ridicule himself.

It wasn't all about the Iraq war, but definitely about Lieberman's unequivocal support of the failed BushCo's policies. The Democrats are fed up; most voters are fed up with this do-nothing Congress and the gross negligence & incompetence of this White House. America is hurting, domestically and internationally. It's time for a change--and change we will get this November. I thought the Dems would only carry the House [since all 435 seats are up], but apparently the Senate [34 seats are up] is in play too! The Democrats took 40 years to implode and lose both chambers of the Congress, but the Republicans took only 10, in six of which they could do anything they wanted since they've been controlling the executive and legislative branches (and much of the federal judiciary). Talking about a total failure with absolutely no excuses!

One message is clear: acquiescing to bad policy is politically harmful. Things are so bad that the old adage, it's better to keep the devil you know, has changed to, hell, anyone else can't possibly be as bad! Although, I believe the Dems have to be pro-active in proposing sane fiscal, social, and foreign policies to get our country out of this mess. In this light, the Lamont victory shows that bipartisanship does mean compromise when necessary but not a surrender. It's a give-and-take situation, and it has to rest on honest debate and a proximity to reality. Sometimes, compromise is simply not possible and even be harmful to the commonwealth. Much like the anti-scientific approach of the conservatives, there can't be a compromise between someone who argues the Earth is round and someone who believes it's flat! Making the Earth a square isn't a realistic compromise. The Republicans have been asking for total submission and have been running our governmnet with imperial arrogance in lieu of God!

It's a patriot's duty to question authority and anyone who wants to take a country like the United States into war on false pretences and pay a dear price for it! It's our civic obligation to be engaged in the affairs of our nation and defend our liberties and those values that has made America great. We can't sacrifice our Constitution, our civil liberties, our separation of church-state, our privacy, our free speech, our legal rights, disregard international treaties we've signed (which under the Constitution are the supreme law of this land) in order to "save ourselves from terrorism!" If Joe Lieberman doesn't get it, he is not good enough to represent a "blue" progressive state like CT.

In this polarized country, I'm afraid, we have no choice than to make sure these blue states remain at the forefront of progress. For we can show the world that a strong economy can co-exist with tolerance & diversity, with science & technology, with education, healthcare, and all those goodies that enhance life when it matters!

Aug 1, 2006

Lieberman to the Dems: Vote For Me or I'll Run Against Your Choice!

Is the Enabler of "the Decider" an Evil-doer too?
If you are not from around here, you probably never heard of the in-fighting among the Dems in Connecticut. The situation is getting hotter as the primary of August 8th nears, with the sitting Senator Joe Lieberman (remember him as Gore’s VP choice in 2000?) facing the newcomer Ned Lamont. The Democratic establishment (you know, the DC regulars) is pulling for the incumbent senator. Even Bill Clinton came out to campaign for Joe! The funny thing is that the party is more committed to Lieberman than he is to the party!

In other words, he won’t respect the decision of his party, so he’s already collecting signatures to run as an Independent if the Dems pick Lamont as their choice! Under “normal” circumstances this wouldn’t happen, but Joe is more popular with Repubs in CT than Dems! Yeah, that’s right! Lowell Weicker was the Repub Senator from CT when Lieberman defeated him in 1988 by running to the ..right of him! Many Repubs voted for the latter because the former was too ..liberal!

Actually I don’t remember of another candidate that has had so many endorsements ranging from William F Buckley (helped him in 1988 against Weicker) to Bill Clinton, and Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Boxer (the biggest disappointment for me). The Cons have come out for Joe in greater numbers. They need the political cover he provides. Limbaugh, Hannity and others have endorsed him! Even the androgynous Ann Coulter fancies Joe! The President gives him hugs and kisses! In return, Joe kisses the Cons asses! Now, should we “convict” Joe as guilty by association? Of course we should!

Oh, and yes, it is about the direction of our country as well. Our current political leadership in DC has been turning the country backwards—I won’t list here the many serious transgressions against our country since Bush was appointed president in 2000—but, to me, every little step towards progress is important. Gradualism may alienate many people but sometimes that’s how a country moves. Lieberman may be appropriate for a very conservative state like Nebraska—that’s why I understand Democrat Ben Nelson being red over there—but Connecticut needs to be represented by a more progressive senator, and, fortunately, we do have this choice today in Ned Lamont!

Gosh, I’d even support a “liberal” like Lowell Weicker [who, as an Independent, became CT’s governor] before I’d vote for Joe! At least the former had the integrity to stand up to the Nixonian abuses and was not an enabler of really bad policy like Joe. One more thing about being a “moderate” a “centrist”: sometimes when the country is at the edge of a precipice and someone suggests to take two steps forward, the person who says let’s compromise and take just one step is equally wrong. It's no surprise the progressive community has by and large endorsed Lamont. Actually the netroots and grassroots efforts have been making a huge difference in the race. The latest poll puts Lamont ahead!

Joe has been wrong on Iraq, but, worse, he has attacked those who dared to question the President! No sir, it is our patriotic duty to question our leaders and try to prevent them from making grave mistakes. Supporting incompetence is not very smart Joe! In addition, it makes us stronger not weaker to be alert and engaged in the affairs of our nation! Besides, who can really argue that our country is safer or stronger today after following BushCo’s policies?

His fate sealed with a kiss?

We are not (as yet) a country of the Big Brother! And, Mr. Lieberman has helped them in attacking our Lady Liberty. He added a couple links to the chain they’re forging! Perhaps Joe confuses the terms fundamentalism and fundamental rights. I am very concerned when someone, especially someone with power, tell us that this country’s laws are based on a particular theology and God’s laws my Zeus’s laws?] are supreme! No, we are not a theocracy, and the founders were very careful to explicitly say so and put this into the US Constitution! Enabling the neocons, the theocrats, the Scalitos, and the lunatic fringe is not a good thing! So Joe has to exit after 18 years in the US Senate and in various political offices since 1970.

Joe’s message to the Democrats in CT is, “vote for me.. but if you do not select me, I will run against your choice!” Joe, when you told the women in CT they may be refused info/treatment by a hospital on "moral grounds"...because there's another hospital within ..walking distance, you too should take a walk now. That's the treatment the Dems in CT should give you on August the 8th! It's a matter of principles and morals too. Why, don't we have this choice?

Editor's note: E.J. Dionne has a most excellent take on Lieberman in the 8/1/06 Washington Post [free registration required].

Now, if you want to volunteer for Lieberman, tell his campaign that you're a Republican so they can pay for your food & lodging! (No kidding!). But, if you want to be part the last push to send Ned Lamont to the US Senate, click here.