Turning History Into Fiction.

Last week’s opening of the George W. Bush presidential library was remarkable in one respect. With the opening, Teapublicans began their attempts to rewrite history in earnest.

Last week, you heard Bush state that he still considers our invasion of Iraq a great achievement for exporting democracy to the world. There was no mention, of course, about the tens of thousands of casualties, the war’s estimated $3 trillion price tag, and the fact that the invasion actually strengthened Iran’s influence in the area.

You heard some Teapublicans speak glowingly of Bush’s economic policies, which will, in their opinion, make history. They view Bush as the greatest president in recent decades. (In case you’ve forgotten, when Bush assumed office, there was an annual surplus. And when he left, our economy was in absolute free fall.) You even heard Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove state that Bush’s image should be carved into Mount Rushmore alongside Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt!

Does this mean that, in the feeble minds of Teapublicans, Bush has now displaced Reagan as the greatest president ever?

Given the amount of b.s. being generated in Texas last week, no wonder it’s known as the Longhorn state.

Flight Delays Versus Food, Children And Safety.

Late Thursday and early Friday, legislation sailed through Congress faster than it has in years. The reason? Teapublicans were upset by furloughs to air traffic controllers, causing flight delays for business people, vacation travelers and, of course, Congress.

Oh my! How would these people ever survive an hour or two wait on their way to and from Washington?

On the other hand, Congress is not at all concerned about the other effects of sequestration cuts. Cuts to meals on wheels for the elderly? They’ll just have to learn to get by with less. Cuts to Medicare payments for cancer patients? Cancer drugs are a luxury. Cuts to food inspectors? We need to eliminate government over-regulation. Cuts to Head Start, displacing 70,000 children? It’s time those deadbeats stopped suckling from the government teat!

But an inconvenience to Congress and their wealthy contributors caused by travel delays? Now that’s serious!

And, even though the deficit is so massive that Teapublicans believe we must cut programs for the poor, the elderly, and the seriously ill, many seem to think we have plenty of money to go to war with Syria and North Korea. They even want to restore cuts to the military so the military can buy weapons the defense department doesn’t even want. The reason? These weapons are made by contractors in districts the allegedly budget-conscious Teapublicans represent.

When are voters going to finally wake up and realize that Teapublicans in Congress don’t care about your needs…unless, of course, you represent a defense contractor, a multinational corporation, or have thousands of dollars to contribute to their re-election campaigns?

A Warning To Democrats:

From recent polls showing, among other things, that 13% of Americans believe the president is actually the Antichrist, you may correctly assume that the Republican Party is full of a bunch of crackpots (aka the Tea Party). You may rightly believe that the GOP platform is akin to something coming out of the north end of a southbound bull. You may also believe that Americans will figure this out and hand the next election to Democrats.

On the last point, you are most likely wrong!

You assume that most Americans actually follow the news and politics. (They don’t.) You assume the media will expose Teapublican ideas for what they really are. (They won’t.) You assume that voters will realize the superiority of Democratic ideas. (Unlikely.) And you assume that minorities, most especially Latinos, will recognize that Democrats best represent their interests. (Not necessarily.)

Too many Democrats are content to allow Teapublicans to define the Democratic Party and Democratic principles.

We cannot sit back and expect independents, union members and minorities to turn the country blue. All across the country, the GOP is hard at work trying to rewrite voting laws to ensure control of the House and the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016.

Even though the Great Recession was caused by Republican infatuation with deregulation, and even though our slow economic recovery is the result of Teapublican abuse of the filibuster and a refusal to compromise, it’s all too likely that voters will hold the White House accountable.

Democrats need to be working to register voters, working to fight voter suppression, working to fight gerrymandering, and working to fight attempts to change the Electoral College. We need to refine our message to make it clear that Democrats support fiscal responsibility, real job growth and the interests of all working people. Also, it wouldn’t hurt for Democrats to make it abundantly clear that we better adhere to the actual teachings of Christ; to show compassion for the poor and powerless; to resist the temptation of greed; to resist the calls for war.

That’s not a religious message. That’s a philosophy that has been largely abandoned by those who claim to be followers. And it’s a philosophy that is appealing to the largest portion of our population.

Democrats also need to make it clear what GOP stands for – Guardians Of Privilege. The GOP supports ever larger tax cuts for the rich and obscene profits for multinational corporations, along with diminished salaries for working people. These GOPstoppers have shown that they are against civil rights, women’s rights and religious freedom. While decrying big government, they want to enforce their own brand of “values” in the bedroom and every other aspect of our society.

Democrats, we’re at a critical juncture. Even if you reject this message, you must understand that we are now in a perpetual campaign cycle. We can’t afford to wait.

George W. Bush Presidential Library – What It Should Include.

No, I’m not going to suggest that it consist simply of My Pet Goat, the only book other than the Bible that Bush is known to have read. But if a presidential library is intended to represent the achievements of a presidency, here’s what I believe it should include:

Bush 9/ll Room – The highlight of this display would be the July 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing which was headlined “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.”

Bush Economic Policy Room – This room would consist of a glass bridge traversing a vast, deep hole representing the Bush administration’s effect on the US economy.

Bush Victory Room – It would contain Bush’s flight suit and the “Mission Accomplished” Banner which announced victory over Iraq more than 7 years before the war ended. The walls would be covered with quotes by administration officials used to sell the war, including the quote by Donald Rumsfeld which predicted that we would be welcomed as liberators and the quote by Paul Wolfowitz saying that the war would pay for itself.

There would also be a tiny empty shelf representing all the WMD found in Iraq.

Bush Patriotism Room – This would actually be a small closet consisting of a single empty file drawer intended for Bush’s missing military records covering the time he was AWOL. The only other item would be a photo of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent willfully exposed by the administration for her husband’s opposition to the Iraq War.

Puppet Master Room – This display would be devoted to Richard “The Dick” Cheney and Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove. In addition to The Dick’s Darth Vader costume, there would be the shotgun he used to shoot his hunting partner in the face and the Plan For A New American Century calling for the use of our military to exert our economic will around the world. There would also be a jar containing The Dick’s original shriveled heart.

Bush Justice Room – This would include a gallery of photos from Abu Ghraib, a map of sites for extraordinary rendition (aka torture), an explanation from “The Dick” explaining that nearly drowning someone repeatedly is not torture, and the 600-page report by the non-partisan Constitution Project which concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that Bush and Cheney bore ultimate responsibility for it.

At the center of the room would be a replica of the statue of Justice with the cloak that former Attorney General John Ashcroft used to cover her bare breast.

Katrina Room – This room would be interactive. Once you enter, the water would begin to rise as a life-size image of Bush smiles and waves. No matter how much you beg, the library staff would refuse to help.

Tell me this wouldn’t be more accurate than the Bush library being portrayed in the media.

Getting Re-Elected Versus Doing The Right Thing.

You would think those two things would not be mutually exclusive. However, in today’s style of politics, our elected representatives seem to be more focused on the next election than on the problems in front of them.

Moderate Republicans (remember them?) are fearful of seeming to cooperate with the president and the opposition lest they be challenged by Tea Party candidates in their next primary. Moderate Democrats who represent conservative districts are fearful of seeming too liberal.

In these days of on-line petitions, no tax pledges, PACs, Super-PACs and year ’round fundraising, no legislative or congressional district is safe. One controversial vote can end a political career. Therein lies the problem.

Politics was never intended to be a career. It was intended to be public service!

If politicians weren’t thinking of making politics a career, they’d be more likely to vote their conscience. They would be less likely to pander to the wealthy and the powerful. They would be more concerned with their constituents’ interests than the interests of the oil lobby, the defense lobby, the pharmaceutical lobby, the insurance lobby, the medical lobby, etc.

They might even ignore the gun lobby in order to protect defenseless six-year-olds from madmen armed with the weapons of war.

It’s time to take the money out of politics. It’s time for public financing of elections. It’s time to place real limits on campaign contributions. It’s time to limit lobbyists. It’s time to eliminate Washington’s revolving door from government to lobbying and back. It’s time to recognize that, while corporations are owned by people, they most definitely are not people. It’s time for real ethics reform.

It’s time to end the endless campaigns.

West, Texas Disaster Highlights Our Regulatory Problems.

Those on the political right are fond of saying that business is over-regulated by the federal government…even after the economic meltdown resulting from the lax regulation of financial institutions; even after skyrocketing oil prices caused by deregulation of commodities; even after the ecological disaster involving BP Oil and the Deepwater Horizon caused, in part, by a shortage of inspectors experienced in deep water drilling .

Not surprisingly, the facts show that we have far too few regulators to make sure that greedy corporations and individuals live up to their responsibilities.

There is an estimated $70 billion in Medicare fraud because Medicare lacks enough investigators to check the more than $525 billion claims annually.  There are only a handful of ATFE agents to inspect our more than 58,000 gun dealers.  And their were apparently too few EPA and OSHA inspectors to discover that the West, Texas fertilizer plant stored 270 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate…more than 1,350 times the 400 pounds that requires the facility to be monitored by the Department of Homeland Security.  The facility hadn’t been inspected in 28 years and had apparently filed false reports indicating no fire or explosive hazard.

Why the lack of inspections and regulators?  In some cases, there is confusion over which federal agency is responsible.  More often, it’s the result of Teapublicans cutting budgets and convincing the public that we are all over-taxed and over-regulated.  So greedy corporations continue to break the law in search of greater and greater profits.  Even when caught, they’re able to pay a relatively small fine and continue to skirt the law.

Yet most studies conclude that the money spent to hire inspectors is money well-spent. In many cases, we recover five to ten times the investment.

Of course, the impact on the environment and public safety is far more difficult to measure…unless you like to breathe clean air, drink clean water or avoid being incinerated by an unnecessary explosion.

Creating A Separate Justice System For Terrorism Is A Very Slippery Slope.

Some Teapublican leaders are calling for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be treated as an “enemy combatant”, removing him from our traditional justice system and subjecting him to a military tribunal. Although this may be tempting to some, it is the slipperiest of slippery slopes.

Tsarnaev is an American citizen. He has the same right to a trial by jury as other accused terrorists and murderers, such as Timothy McVeigh and Jared Loughner. To treat him otherwise is to say that some American citizens are worthy of trial by a jury of their peers, and that other American citizens are undeserving of their constitutional rights.

This is the ultimate class warfare.

If we are to start down that path with Tsarnaev, where do we stop? Should all those accused of mass murder be denied a jury trial? Should jury trials be reserved only for natural born citizens? Should all naturalized citizens accused of crimes be turned over to the military?

The very act of declaring Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant” would undermine the bedrock of our justice system – that all citizens are equal, and that all citizens are innocent until proven guilty.

A Little Perspective On The Boston Bombing Suspects.

Before Americans get all high and mighty and resume the same Islam bashing that followed 9/11, we should remember this:

Islamic terrorists no more represent Islam than the Westboro Baptist Church represents Protestantism. They no more represent Islam than pedophile priests represent Catholicism. They no more represent Chechnya, Russia, or immigrants than they represent boxers, wrestlers, lifeguards, jazz pianists, and medical students.

Their violent acts were not the result of a national decline in “moral” values, a permissive society, or of violent video games. And, no, Fox News Channel, hate radio hosts and Tea Party Parrots…they certainly weren’t encouraged or permitted by the Obama administration.

They were obviously intelligent and talented young men who were angry, confused, misguided and possibly used. No one knows their motives for sure, but we should not blame others for their violent actions.

Suddenly, Budweiser Tastes A Lot Better!

I’m not a big beer drinker. But I’ll treat myself to a cold one a little more often now…and it will definitely be an Anheuser-Busch product. That’s because Adolphus Busch IV just resigned his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association.

It seems Busch was upset over the NRA’s refusal to listen to its members who support universal background checks. In his resignation letter, he wrote, “The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established. Your current strategic focus clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.”

I don’t know if Busch has been a large donor to the NRA, but his resignation has made news and is an obvious embarrassment to an organization that fraudulently purports to represent hunters and sport shooters. Instead, it has ignored the wishes of its membership in order to kowtow to the greedy and murderous wishes of our nation’s gun manufacturers.

So thank you, Mr. Busch. This Bud’s for you!

Government Of The Gun, By The Gun And For The Gun.

You probably thought our government was “of the people.” Not anymore. The NRA, the Republican Party and the Tea Party Parrots have changed that. When gun-lovin’ senators decided to filibuster a bill that would expand background checks on gun sales, they went against the will of 90 percent of the people.

It’s now abundantly clear who these politicians represent, and it’s certainly not us. They have chosen to represent the minority over the majority. They have chosen gun manufacturers over citizens. They have chosen campaign donations over lives.

To show exactly how far this nonsense has gone, in Arizona, the Teapublican-controlled legislature recently passed a bill making it illegal for cities to destroy guns collected as part of gun buy-back efforts, guns seized in crime investigations, even guns used in murders.

No gun shall meet its end before its time!

People, on the other hand, are treated much differently. These same Teapublican legislators have literally voted to withhold Medicaid from the poor that would have saved lives. As a result of the legislators’ decision, a number of people were allowed to die prematurely…people who could have been saved by a simple operation.

Of course, Arizona legislators have also refused to reconsider the death penalty, even in the case of the severely retarded, even when there are serious questions of guilt.

But, in Arizona, all guns will live to shoot another day; maybe even another innocent person; maybe you!