Friday, November 10, 2006

Rumsfeld to be charged with War Crimes

The president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, is heading to Germany today to file a new case charging outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes for authorizing torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Small wonder my bags get searched every time I fly, and big surprise that some jarhead was taking notes about my speech in Florida ("See you in Gitmo, kid."). These CCR guys did the commentary for my first book, remember. Heh.

I've been wondering when this was going to happen... the legal concept of Universal Jurisdiction has been floating around in the international ether for about 20 years now... it basically says that Genocide and other War Crimes are too great and too harmful to Humanity at large to be left to the jurisdiction of the countries in which they happened. The first time it was used was when Spain indicted Agusto Pinochet for the murders which happened on his watch in Chile.

The best part about Universal Jurisdiction is that it states that any country which attempts to pass laws retroactively legalizing crimes against humanity by its leadership has proven that it is incapable of meting out Justice in those cases and that the moment a country prepares that type of law, they surrender all legal jurisdiction over those crimes. The United States directly endorsed this concept when they said that no Yugoslavian court could fairly try Slobodan Milosevic & Radovan Karadic because the Yugoslav parliament had attempted to pardon all of the murderers retroactively.

Flash forward to 2006 and Bush's Military Commissions Act that the Republican Congress just forced down America's throat, which invalidated the Constitution, revoked 900 years of Habeus Corpus law and retroactively pardoned kidnapping, torture and murder by the Bush Administration. Ooops, guess who just proved that they're War Criminals?

You'd better believe that in 2009, when Bush steps out of the White House, someone's going to indict him, too.

If the Democrats are smart, they'll hold a lot of Senate Hearings about this torture, bring forward some of the 60+ innocent farmers, teenagers, British college students, etc. who were held and tortured at Guantánamo and rub America's face in what the Republicans have been covering up. Then and only then will they be able to muster political support for rescinding this awful Torture Enabling Act passed by the BTK President.

If they don't, then they're just as bad as Bush and his cronies.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What Happened and Why (And Don't Be Fooled)

The outcome of this election is as clear as it gets. Unfortunately, the Mainstream Corporate Media is out there spin, spin, spinning this election, spreading myths about what happened. The stickiest spin is that this election is somehow a victory for Conservatism and Conservative Democrats... the reasoning being that if Democrats want to stay in power, they have to be more like Republicans.

Sorry, no, not buying it.

In the interests of clarity, let's examine EXACTLY what this election meant versus what everyone is claiming:

(1) This is a devastating defeat for the Republican Party. Excuses are being made that this is "standard 6th-year losses for the President's party." If that's true, why did Democrats GAIN seats in the House in Clinton's 6th year in office? The truth here is that the President and his party are deeply unpopular and out of touch with America's desires. This win for the Democrats is a historically humiliating defeat for Bush and his supporters and they know it. We should be proud enough to acknowledge it and to force the Corporate Media to stop regurgitating Republican Talking Points.

(2) These election results are a resounding rejection of the core, defining premises of Bush's Republican Party. While the war was definitely on voters' minds, this election was NOT only about Iraq. The Democrats who won did so by opposing the main tenets of Bush's GOP: unchecked Presidential power, One-Party Rule, warmongering, war profiteering, bloated Federal deficits, tax cuts for the rich and the corruption which has fed the GOP elections machine for the last 12 years. Nine corrupt Republican incumbents were kicked out by the voters, and that's with the Corporate Media generally ignoring their crimes. When the Ethics Rules are tightened come January, and the investigations begin in earnest, another 9 will probably follow.

3) This election does NOT show support for "Conservatism" or for a new "Conservative Democratic Party."

When the Republicans took the House in 1994, their success resulted from picking off vulnerable Democrats in the South. By contrast, Democratic candidates won Tuesday in every part of the country and in the reddest of red states like Arkansas, Kansas and Indiana. The Republicans are rapidly collapsing into the Party of the Racist South... but even there, they lost incumbents and support. As we saw in Kansas where 9 major Republicans switched parties and ran as Moderate Democrats, the GOP has catered to the deranged Theologist Religious Right for so long that they've alienated middle of the road voters from their own party.

Most devastating for the Republicans, Democrats got 30% of the White Christian Evangelical vote. The message is sinking in for religious people: Republicans stand for power not for Jesus. There's no Christian message in fucking the poor and extending the life of Teri Schiavo, only hate-mana thrown to a small and deranged band of religious extremists. There's nothing Christ-like about scapegoating Gays while molesting Congressional pages. There's no message from God about shifting money from the poor to the rich through regressive tax cuts.

Furthermore, Democrats of all stripes and ideologies won... from the first honest-to-god Socialist to ever serve in the House to Jim Webb, former Secretary of the Navy for Ronald Reagan.

Yes, some conservative Democrats were elected. Some of them are pro-Life and some are opposed to gay marriage. Big Deal. Harry Reid is both of those things, but he's still a clear progressive whose stances on those issues kept Karl Rove from running distracting sideshows the real issues, like he has for the last 3 elections. The same goes for guys like Casey in Pennsylvania... I'd rather have a pro-life Democrat than a theocrat like Rick Santorum any day of the week.

Best of all, for the first time in 12 years, Democrats didn't win by pretending to be Republicans... they won because they emphatically and unapologetically vowed to oppose what the Republican Party has become and to put an end to its destructive one-party rule. No one voting thought they were getting Republican Lite. Democrats won by aggressively attacking everything Bush stands for, not by trying to be a slightly modified and duller version of it like they did in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

(4) The Blogs Won This Election. Many of the Democrats who won were candidates who were supported most enthusiastically by the most liberal blogs who raised money for only a handful of challengers, many of whom won against Republican incumbents in previously red districts: Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Chris Carney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Nick Lampson, Tim McNerery, Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Jon Tester, Tim Walz and Jim Webb, among others.

Many of those Democratic winners weren't initially supported by the Democratic Party, either... especially McNerey in his race against Dick "I Hate The Earth" Pombo, who got $300,000 or so from the DNC versus the $1.6 million that the GOP pumped into that race. The Blogs and Environmental Movement made the difference in overcoming a corrupt polluter who spent over $7 Million against an expert in Wind Power.

Not every Blog-support candidate won, but that doesn't mean that liberal blogs weren't effective. Bloggers tended to support underdog Democratic candidates who were challenging Republican incumbents... the seats which are the most difficult to win. Most blog-favored Democrats who lost were ones running in extremely red districts against GOP incumbents -- such as Angie Paccione (against the heinous Marilyn Musgrave) and Victoria Wulslin (against the equally disgusting Jean Schmidt) -- and they came very close to winning.

Given those facts, the idea that this election was some great repudiation of the Progressive Blogger Branch of the Democratic Party is wishful thinking by those who wish it were so. The Democrats who won have one thing in common: aggressive opposition to the monstrosities of the Republican Party.

(5) Karl Rove is not All-Powerful and The American People aren't retarded -- or -- You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

For the last six years, Bush and his cronies have run rampant across the political landscape destroying our freedom, limiting our Civil Rights, and fatally wounding the Constitution. They've gotten away with it because they out-strategized their Democratic opponents at every turn.

In 2000, voters bought into Rove's talking points of "Compassionate Conservatism," "Clinton Fatigue," and "No Child Left Behind." Rove pointed Bush squarely at the middle, while simultaneously telling Christian Evangelical Theocracy-lovers that once in office Bush would outlaw abortion, evolution, stem cells and make being gay an executable offense. The mainstream Corporate Media refused to see the truth before their eyes, didn't notice that Bush wasn't sending "dog-whistle" code signals to religious voters (such as constantly quoting from the Bible and obscure right-wing Hymns in his speeches) and pretended that Bush's lies about the failure of his policies in Texas were equivalent to Gore's overstatements about the Social Security Lockbox and him personally inventing the Internet (which he didn't even say).

At the same time, Gore's handlers were telling him to run a Republican-Lite campaign. To aid this, Gore brought on Joe Lieberman, who proceeded to make the election about who loved God more, him or Bush. God, god, god, blah blah social security lockbox, god, god, god, earth-toned suits, God, god. Blechhh. Progressive voters stayed home, Gore won the popular vote and then blinked in Florida when confronted by clear voting fraud. His scrambling attempts to only recount Dem-leaning counties made him appear partisan. When the Supreme Court handed down their illegal and unprecedented ruling, Gore blinked again: Democratic "Leadership" advised Gore to step away gracefully to maintain his future electability, despite later recounts which showed that Gore had clearly won the state of Florida.

Having thus won in 2000, Rove and Tom Delay set about establishing permanent One-Party Rule of America. There was no tax they wouldn't cut, no legislation they wouldn't pass, so long as they got a corporate campaign contribution in return.

In 2001, before 9/11, Bush's popularity was hovering around 39%, the lowest for any President that early in his career. The Republicans were headed towards massive midterm losses. After 9/11, the Republicans used the boogeyman of Osama Bin Laden to scare voters into voting against their own economic and political self-interest. As proof of their weakness, the Democrats were even unwilling to challenge the legitimacy of Rove's terror alert issued in the week before the election. Rove made the 2002 elections a referendum on whether Democrats had the stomach to confront Saddam Hussein. Weak-kneed Democratic "Leadership" like Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt were unable to adjust to this new scaremongering reality, unable to rationally prove that Saddam was a paper tiger, express a clear alternative vision for the nation, and voted FOR the President's desired war. Thus, by playing Republican-Lite once again, they were swept from office by the Rove Machine.

In 2004, Democratic "Leadership" decided that instead of a popular progressive Governor who was against the war, the party machinery should instead be rallied behind a career political insider Senator who had voted for the war, a lifetime politician with a career full of procedural votes which could easily be twisted to mean anything the Republicans wanted ("he voted NO on giving our troops body armor"), NO charisma, no ability to speak movingly or clearly to the common man, an excessive love for nuanced speech ("I voted for the bill, before I voted against it), an inability to define his own career successes and a complete inability to fight back when aggressively attacked, either with labels (flip-flopper) or even about his own history (Swift-boats Veterans for Truth).

Faced with The Decider or The Equivocator, America voted for Rove's candidate. It helped that he had anti-gay ballot measures on 24 state ballots to drive his religious hate-filled partisans to the voting booth.

This time around, though, new Democratic Leadership rejected the Republican-Lite theory. Howard Dean, Rahm Emmanuel, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid kept a generally straight line as they marched towards Rove with bayonets lowered: The President is out of touch, the Republicans are corrupt, and the war is probably already lost. Faced with a unified opponent unwilling to play Republican-Lite, Rove's vaunted machine failed; today, he is a rejected loser. Karl Rove's ability to hypnotize zombified Americans with distractions like the New Jersey court ruling on gay civil unions, or John Kerry idiotic comments, or moronic buzzphrases has worn thin. No longer will catchy slogans about how Democrats "support terrorists" and their "San Francisco values" work to divide people like before... so long as Democrats don't allow themselves to stand still and allow the Republicans to define them.

Rovism is dead. Americans see Bush's Republican movement for what it is and have begun the process of smashing it.

(6) The Democratic victory is only one small step towards the restoration of our country, the Constitution and the Rule of Law. This President feels that Congress is irrelevant and has shown a propensity for ignoring any law that it passes and for ignoring any and all rebukes shown him by the Supreme Court. Reversing the damage done by six years of One-Party Rule will take time and concerted effort: there is still accountability to be imposed, subpoenas to be issued, crimes to be uncovered, radicalism to be reversed, and tons of damage to be undone... and none of that will be easy. Democrats still face a dysfunctional and corrupt national media, apathy on the part of some Americans, the potent use of propaganda by the Bush administration, voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering and fundraising corruption.

Lastly, let's not ignore the threats that still face us. Just because Karl Rove didn't wheel Osama bin Laden out in the week before this midterm election doesn't mean he's not saving him for 2008. Let's wait and see some serious examinations of the voting machine results in close elections before we admit that Diebold's machines are fine when they clearly are NOT fine. Let's also not forget the mindnumbing panic and fear that 9/11 produced which allowed this cabal of Authoritarian psychotics to gain absolute control of our country for four years. If another attack should happen, we need to be ready to point out that retreat into Despotism is NOT the answer.

Get to work, Democrats. Otherwise you're just part of the problem.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Wrap-Up

Well, good news and bad news...

The Democats won! Yay! They've got a minimum of 50 seats in the Senate (with one still outstanding but leaning Democrat) and a solid majority in the House with 234 seats to the Republicans' 201, as the votes stand today.

I saw smug-ass criminal Tom Delay on MSNBC last night before the results came in and he said "Oh, Nancy Peolosi is going to get 17 seats or so and have a one-vote majority. She's not going to be able to accomplish anything and we'll clean her clock in two years." Ooops, sorry fuckface, looks like a 35-seat pickup for the Democrats which means she CAN lose a couple of guys on various votes and still get real work done.

For context on this victory, the Republicans won 54 seats in 1992, almost all of them concentrated in the deep South. Yesterday, Democrats all across the nation won. At 234 seats, the Democrats now have a majority as large as the biggest Republicans were ever able to muster. Though the majority in the Senate may be as slim as a 1-vote margin, it's still a good starting point... if we can only keep Joe Lieberman in line. It's a pity that the racist hicks in Tennessee were too scared to elect a black man, but I was never too excited about Ford in the first place... he was really just a Republican in sheep's clothing.

Speaking of blacks, African-Americans who threw in their lot with the Republican Party (the official racist enemy of non-whites everywhere) got their asses handed to them, big-time: Kenneth "I Rigged the 2004 Ohio Presidential Vote" Blackwell was beaten 75-25%, Michael Steele got beat by 10% in Maryland, and Lynn Swann got his ass handed to him by 20%, despite leftover good feelings from "Brian's Song" and football fans everywhere.

Despite declaring 2006 "the Year of the Black Republican," the Republicans only fielded 6 black candidates for the House, versus the Democrats 41. African-American voters seemed to care more about substantive issues this year than they did about Gay Marriage in 2004... 90% voted Democratic. As Bush himself said at the 2006 NAACP convention (after deliberately skipping it for 5 years in a row, the first President to ever do so): "I understand that racism still lingers in America. It's a lot easier to change a law than to change a human heart. And I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party." After seeing Ford go from 12% up to Ford losing by 10% after the GOP ran Mandingo-esque commercials in Tennessee of a naked white woman coyly saying "call me, Harold," it's easy to believe that black folks might not trust the Republican Party. It's also easy to believe that the Republican Party hasn't quite managed to change their "human" heart about the benefits of openly appealing to racism.

In other good news, at least nine dirty politicians from the Schemin' 109th Congress got metaphorically beheaded by an angry electorate:

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) lost her kamikaze bid for a Florida Senate seat, despite God telling her personally that he wanted her to be Senator. Poor Katherine... How was she to know God was lying to her?

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) was notorious both for his paranoid conspiracies about the CIA committing 9/11 and the recent FBI raids on his home and office for corruption and fraud. It's true, Curt: not only are they all out to get you, they just got you! Those dirty Zionist CIA Homosexuals! Damn you all to helllllll...

Speaking of homosexuality, Rick "Gays = Man on Dog" Santorum spent more than $20 million to lose a swing state by almost 20 points. Haw haw haw. Man On Dog Santorum's backers attempted every cheap or dirty trick in the book, including funding a Green Party candidate to challenge Casey from the left, but it all availed to naught. It was hilarious to see his kid crying on national television last night during his dad's concession speech. Maybe she'll run for Senate in 20 years to avenger her daddy like G.W. Bush.

Among other major crooks, there's Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) who was never much fun -- except when he was trying to explain how a Abramoff-hosted fundraiser wasn't really a fundraiser. Voters didn't seem to buy it, though, so he's out on his ass.

Likewise, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), whose legendary hatred of Mother Earth leads one to believe that she beat him as a child, is out on his ass due to his Abramoff connections and a smart campaign by the Democratic challenger... an expert in Wind Power Technology. Mother Earth has one wicked sense of humor, huh?

Rep. J.D. "The Sportscaster" Hayworth (R-AZ), also a Friend of Jack Abramoff, was ushered out of office in Arizona despite hating Mexicans more than anyone except Tom Tancredo (who, sadly, won). Don't feel bad for him, though... Hayworth can probably get his old job back and go back to being the stupidest sportscaster in Arizona, or, if he's scammed enough cash out of Abramoff, he might be able to retire and do what he loves for a living... like getting a rifle and going illegal-hunting with his buds The Minutemen down on the border. Knowing Hayworth, he'll choose the unpaid illegal hunting. His kind loves to see the pink mist.

Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS), who made a play for scumbaggery with a shady house sale scheme, never really followed through on his fraud. Or on anything else. A friend of mine from Kansas told me that people in Kansas have been FURIOUS for the last six weeks that Ryun wasn't even bothering to campaign, merely assuming that he would beat the Democratic challenger, Nancy Boyda, without even running a campaign. Ryun's reasoning? "Everyone in Kansas hates Democrats, right?" Boyda smashed him by 50,000 votes, thus proving it's always polite to ASK people for their vote, even in Kansas where they "hate Democrats, right?" If he wasn't retarded, Ryun might have noticed that Democrat Governor Kathleen Sibelius was cruising towards re-election with a 30-point margin. Thank God for the stupidity and myopia of the religious right, I guess.

Also gone in this election are the beater-and-choker crowd, namely Reps. Don Sherwood (R-PA) and John Sweeney (R-NY). Strangely, Sherwood's voters turned him out of office despite his heartfelt ads admitting to and apologizing for cheating on his wife but denying that he choked his girlfriend. Though my tastes run to more complex and refined scandals, spousal abuse seems to hold America's attention. It's one of those crimes that are easily understood (like blowjobs in the Oval Office versus the complex bribery of Abramoff & Tom Delay).

In Montana, voters attempted to kick out Sen. Conrad Burns (R), whose Abramoff ties were as many and colorful as the statesman's favorite colloquialisms about the "brown man who paints [his] house!" But, as befits a man who was raised by wolves in the crawl space beneath a rustic log cabin (or something like that -- it's in his stump speech), he's still trying to force his election into a lengthy recount. Live like a scum, die like a scum, I suppose. Hopefully both Burns and Allen will realize that holding out for prolonged recounts only makes them and their party seem like poor losers.

Of course, we should remember those who couldn't be with us today but are certainly here in spirit: Tom Delay's name on the ballot in Texas and Mark Foley's name on the ballot in Florida were both too odious for red-state voters to hold their noses and vote Republican anyway. Good for them. Also not here to enjoy his loss is former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), the only sitting congressman from the 109th Congress to be sentenced for a felony. And of course, the Republican's patron saint, former Rep. Duke Cunningham, is still living off the taxpayer, only now it's in an orange jumpsuit in federal prison. Both of these criminal scumbags' seats went to Democrats. Yay. Now Dems need to clean their own house of William "Freezer Money" Jefferson.

Abortion stayed legal in South Dakota (they had a 100% ban Amendment on the ballot). California stopped yet another parental notification law. Kansas threw out a right-wing Attorney General who had spent the last four years investigating the private medical records of women who'd had abortions and attempting to prosecute the doctors who performed them legally.

In Kansas, a full NINE major members of the Republican Party (including one former GOP State Party Chairman) switched parties and ran as Democrats. The major Kansas newspapers endorsed them all... why? Because the Kansas Republican Party is held hostage by crazy religious fundamentalist Theo-Cons who don't want to teach evolution in the schools, want to outlaw abortion and to destroy the separation of church and state. Faced with a primary system which routinely defeated moderate middle-of-the-road candidates in favor of Theologist Nutjobs, these Nine Republicans threw in the towel and joined the Democratic Party. We've expanded our tent... they've shrunk theirs, and that's fine with me.

Not everything went great for liberals and progressives in this election: Colorado (where it's already illegal to get a same-sex marriage) had a huge turnout of psychotic right-wing fundamentalists who were FURIOUS that Pastor Ted Haggerd had been so tempted by all that luscious, sweaty gay man-sex that they rallied to defeat a ballot allowing Domestic Partnerships! Silly gays... Civil Rights are for straights! God said so 5000 years ago, and how can poorly translated and extensively edited Jewish tribal mysticism from thousands of years ago be wrong?

Speaking of Same-Sex Marriage, there are seven fewer states in which you can get Gay Married now. You'd better hurry off to Massachusetts before someone puts it on the ballot there. Judging by the voting results in this latest round of Same Sex Ballot Measures, about 62% of America evidently hates The Gay. Strangely, a similar amendment in Arizona FAILED by a margin of only 1000 votes. Yay for Arizona. I guess having the highest population in the nation of unemployed college graduates DOES count for something?

Luckily, except for Arizona, almost all the states ever likely to try it already have an Amendment on the books now, so that ends this era of anti-gay bashing. 43 out of 50 states now officially proscribe same-sex marriage. I hope the fundies enjoy their time in the sun, because all of this crap is going to be overturned in 20 years... the kids today just don't care. They were brought up on internet porn from the time they could walk, and it all seems rather stupid to them. The demographics are in our favor... we just have to wait for today's high schoolers and teenagers to start voting in 10 years, and for the Korea & Vietnam generations to die off and take their stupid bigotry with them.

In a brilliant maneuver, the Democrats finally discovered the antidote to Karl Rove's "Same Sex Marriage Amendments" which bring out religious nutbags en masse: "Minimum Wage Amendments." There were six minimum wage Amendments on ballots across America and they all passed. Even better, MWA's are the gift which keeps giving: you can ALWAYS raise it again... but once you outlaw Gay Marriage, it's kinda difficult to outlaw it again.

Thus sounds the death knell for Rovism—the disgusting, quaint and now fully discredited theory that majorities are built not by expanding support with ideas that work but by mobilizing extremist minorities with ideas that aren't intended to be enacted and wouldn't work if they were.

In my opinion, the best news of the 2006 elections is the opportunity it gives Democrats to earn the lasting support of the independents and disgruntled Republicans whose votes just dropped into their laps. If the Democrats can expand on this support they've got now, they can win even more seats in 2008 (provided Hillary Clinton isn't at the top of the ballot).

That's my .02¢, anyway.

Speaking of my money, four of the five House candidates (all from other states) that I gave money to, won their races. Seriously, "The Internets" are the best thing to ever happen to Progressive Politics. Small money donations really do help. $20 from 10,000 people across the country is one hell of a lot better than $2000 from a big corporation, and the threat that this blog money might disappear will hopefully keep the Democrats in line.

The Blogs are owed a great deal of the credit for this Democratic Tsunami, as is Howard Dean, whose 50-state strategy of finding, running and funding Democratic candidates in previously-uncontested Republican districts destroyed the GOP's ability to concentrate all their resources into battleground states.

Now, the first thing that needs to happen, is for the Democrats to fix the voting machines, otherwise this gigantic windfall has been for naught. I wouldn't put it past Diebold to allow ONE election to be won by the Dems just to take the wind out of voting machine reform legislation and set us up for the Presidential Theft of 2008.