Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Kill 'em all
As we sip our coca-colas, slip into our bathtubs, try on new shoes, our society grows more barbarous by the minute. Under the radar of our coke-drinking, fresh-smelling, newly shod selves, we have approved the concept of killing a man for not divulging details of a plot. (If memory serves, we've already killed our first drunk driver criminal. I'm fuzzy on the concept, but wouldn't a life sentence have prevented that crime from happening again? And, if we are killing chronic drunk drivers, why not swim upriver to the source and kill chronic drinkers? ... after all most of them have cars.)
As Zacarias Moussaoui unravels and becomes a PROSECUTION WITNESS at his own trial; I am witness to an ugly turning point (technically a turning-back point considering this country's past love affair with lynching) that defines us all as killers of first resort.
Even the prosecutors admit that Moussaoui killed no one; even the prosecutors admit that he was not a 9/11 participant; even a blind person can see that Moussaoui WANTS to be a martyr. I don't respect his hatred for America; but I respect the fact that he is a living person. Governments should not grow comfortable with meting out death. They shouldn't.
Individuals can and do lose control. Horrific things are done in the name of passion and God. No individual has set up a tri-partite system of government with checks and balances in his soul. That's what we pay government for. To work in the province of our social relations. Government should be dispassionate.
When we are crying for vengeance and death and destruction, we are being human. The rallying cry for reason should always come from government. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, not the U.S. -- or any nation. If Moussaoui was involved; then try him and convict him and jail him. I fear the slope gets too slippery when government kills because of withheld information.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
If we're at war...
If we're at war - why are we giving tax cuts to our wealthier citizens; don't we need that money to fight? After all in WWII they rationed materials and raised taxes.
If we're at war - who are we fighting? If it's just Osama bin Laden, why isn't he dead? The military-industrial complex can't find and kill one guy?
If we're at war - what country is our enemy and why?
If we're at war - why would Bush tell us "not to worry about security" during the Dubai ports deal?
If we're at war - and we need more soliders, why isn't there a draft?
If we're at war - what will our victory look like? Who needs to be dead and why?
If we're at war - why aren't American companies joining in? Why aren't steel companies refusing to sell steel to our "enemies"? Why aren't gun manufacturers refusing to sell guns to our "enemies"?
If we're at war - why won't our government be transparent about the cause for our war - 9/11? Why were civilian tapes of the Pentagon attack confiscated? Why do researchers believe it was a cruise missile that attacked the Pentagon? Why did the World Trade Center towers and World Trade #7 fall STRAIGHT DOWN when that's atypical behavior for such well-built structures? And, what were the series of explosions heard by everyone near the tower attacks?
If we're at war - what the hell do we care about how Saddam Hussein treats his citizens?
Apparently, this is a very warm and fuzzy war. We get to go nation-building by taking out a dictator who had nothing to do with the attacks; we get to keep driving our SUVs and bitching about abortion and gay marriage. We don't have to worry about being drafted. We only have to kill one guy. We get to choose new enemies each week -and then make up with them. We don't have to worry about national security. Our companies don't have any special restrictions put on their sales. And, we've won when we say we won.
Doesn't sound like war to me; it sounds more like a fundraiser.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I think this is an interesting take on racism, from the perspective of a white Zimbabwean.
UNSANE AND SAFE: systematic racism of the west
Kobe and the GOP: will they ever learn the lesson?
I love basketball. I appreciate the athleticism and skill of guys who play professional ball and I am a diehard apologist for bad actor athletes like Ron Artest, Allen Iverson and Shawn "Never Met a Baby I Didn't Make" Kemp.
But, my love has limits. When Kobe Bryant broke the deal -- which was to respect the game -- I had to let go of my affection for Kobe and, more importantly, more than two decades of being a Lakers fan. It was not something I decided lightly. I believed in Kobe when he cheated on his wife; I believed he didn't rape that young woman. I looked the other way when he feuded with Shaq. But, when he decided to break up a championship team because he "wasn't the man", I realized that his was not the star I wanted to be hitched to. Yes, tell me my priorities are WAY the hell out of whack, but to say that you have to admit I have priorities.
Where are the priorities for conservatives who are being bamboozled by the GOP? What happens when you say 'up' and the party goes 'down?' You say 'stop' and they say 'go?'
If conservatives such as Andrew Sullivan can honestly believe lame-ass apologies such as the one he wrote for Time magazine (nutshell: 'Conservatives were wrong about the Iraq war, but it's still early so we might be right after all'), where is the responsibility that is touted so much, so often and so loudly?
Duke Cunningham, Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Katherine Harris, Claude Allen, Marvin Bush, William H.T. Bush, Halliburton -- and the hits keep coming. The biggest hue and cry from conservatives was against the press for "making an issue" of Dick Cheney blasting a guy with a shotgun -- from his car.
When do modern conservative principles get violated? Bush has racked up more debt than ANY president in history. In fact; his debt is bigger than ALL the combined national debts of any president in history. Forgive me if I misremember Politics 101, but I thought conservatives didn't care for that kind of thing.
As I understand it; conservative star players have cheated, lied, spied, stolen, been responsible for thousands upon thousands of deaths and yet many still want this to be a one-party system?
Believe me, I WANT conservatives, because I need a counterpoint. I just don't want today's emboldened conservatives who honestly think they know what's right for me -- and will endorse a political party that wants to stay in power at ALL costs. I want the conservatives who really value human life -- sorry pro-capital punishment and anti-abortion don't fly. I want the conservatives who don't hark back to the turn of the 19th Century to cast Democrats as racists.
And, if race is the forum, conservatives can't speak honestly to me. It's either the distant past or obfuscation. I KNOW about Byrd. But, don't piss on me and tell me it's raining because Howard Dean didn't have any black people in his brain trust. The GOP has a few HUNDRED Howard Deans -- but where is their John Lewis? Where is their Barack Obama? Where is the Donna Brazile of the GOP? Why is billionaire Oprah Winfrey a Democrat? Malcolm X said you cannot have an effect without a cause; you don't have a leg to stand on when you say those horrible liberals are keeping us down while the conservatives want to give us a hand up. Any true conservative would see that as a false argument -- the "hand up" is coming from ourselves. We are electing us and we are learning the political process. If there are racist liberals; they have only impeded; they haven't halted. In the GOP, black candidates appear to have been halted at the gate.
I have to ask, what is the cause for that effect?
Ronald Reagan arrested more black people and put more of us on the streets than Jefferson Davis. What do you think those incarcerations and that homelessness engendered? That's recent history.
Bush has FEWER African Americans in his White House tenure, NOT more than than Clinton. That's today.
The Republican party has had three (3!) congressmen elected since 1929: JC Watts, Gary Franks and Oscar DePriest. There have been 84 Democrats. And, at least one of those Republicans was not happy with his party. Watts complained about his treatment in the GOP. In the other house, there has been one GOP senator in the modern era, Edward Brooke -- who, of course, is outnumbered 2 to 1 by Dem senators.
The overall theme for Dems looks to be inclusion because I can see it. Cause/effect. Anyone with eyes can see it. There are people in real positions of power who look like me -- they are not just "consultants" like Walter Williams, appointees like Colin Powell or outsiders like Alan Keyes. There is no reason for me to indict the Dems because of a few bad apples; I know they're not perfect and my job is to keep them honest and accountable. But the GOP bushel looks rotten through and through.
If I were a black Republican, I'd be asking myself why I want to support a party that marginalizes me.
It's good to re-assess your values sometimes. I did it and turned away from an 81-point scoring machine. But, I feel so much better about myself.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Why the GOP is not for me
I'm a blond-haired, blue-eyed, middle-class, middle-aged white guy who has lived most of my life in Dallas, Tx., probably the country's bastion of old-school racism.
I haven't been the victim of racism myself – I don't subscribe to the reverse racism theory leveled by many closet Republican racists like William Bennett, who recently in the National Review equated universities with affirmative action policies that attempt to level the playing field with the same type of racism exhibited by the Ku Klux Klan, which has engaged in terrorism and murder for decades. Because of my whitebread appearance, many white Republicans have felt comfortable enough around me during various times in my adult life to let their guard down and express their true feelings on matters of race.
Big mistake. This column is part of my payback for having to endure all those sickening comments. It's part of my payback for Republicans refusing to heed my responses that I don't appreciate their racist comments and them acting like there's something wrong with me because I don't play along.
I know from experience that Trent Lott is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism in the Republican Party.
I can't count the number of times some Anglo conservative has used the N-word in reference to African-Americans in front of me, even towards those they root for, such as Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith. I can't count the number of racial "jokes" or references some white City Council member, police officer, businessman, or other establishment figure - whom I know is a Republican - has told to my face. A popular "joke" during this time of year by such racist Republicans is, "What are you doing for Martin Luther ‘Coon' Day?" Or they will snicker, "Have you learned anything during ‘Black Ass' History Month?"
I've sat at high school football games in Republican-dominated towns as Anglo adults in the stands taunted the lone black player on the opposing team using that N-word. I've attended all-white meetings – as a reporter, not participant - in which elitist Republicans have discussed getting around the Voting Rights Act by lobbying for requirements that voters have to own property. I didn't need someone to spell out what they were talking about – they wanted some way to keep blacks from voting.
In the 1920s, Dallas had more Ku Klux Klan members per capita than any other large U.S. city. The city had an actual "segregation of the races" clause written in to its charter as late as 1968. Peter Gent, a former Cowboy player and author of classics like North Dallas Forty, says he was shocked to arrive from the Midwest in the mid-1960s to witness such blatant Jim Crow segregation. For example, the team's black players had to drive an extra hour from their segregated South Dallas neighborhoods to reach practice in North Dallas. Through lawsuits, protests, and other measures, the blatant racist policies are gone, but they have been replaced with subtle, back-door racism executed from still all-white country clubs and subdivisions in the suburbs.
Sure, the white racists around here used to be mostly Democrats, who hated Lincoln-style Republicans who forced Reconstruction on them after the Civil War. But most of those have left the Democratic Party for the friendlier-for-them confines of the Republican Party, where they don't have to rub elbows with African-Americans at the multi-cultural Democratic functions that contrast with Republican events like black and white keys on a piano.
Many of the high-profile African-American Republicans are of mixed race, anyways – Colin Powell, for example, is part black, white, and Indian. In fact, Powell could be more white than black, with English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry mixed in with African and Indian. There's nothing wrong with that, of course – many Americans have some mixed blood. But let's be honest – the average white Republican would rather have a light-skinned mulatto move in next door than a dark-skinned African-American.
Name a white public figure who espouses racist views, and the vast majority of the time he or she is affiliated with the Republican Party [yes, there is racism exhibited by some African-American public figures, but that's the subject for another column]. David Duke, the former Klansman and Louisiana state representative, chaired the Republican Parish Executive Committee of the largest Republican parish in Louisiana as late as 2000, when he skipped the country and eventually was convicted of fraud and tax evasion. Many Republicans are associated with the openly-racist Council for Conservative Citizens, including outgoing Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who has spoken before the segregationist group, and Republican National Committee leader Buddy Witherspoon, who has resisted calls that he resign his CCC membership.
As the Internet site, evilGOPbastards.com, points out, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a Republican, launched his career as a GOP operative in 1964 by harassing black voters. Republican Attorney General John Ashcroft opposed racial integration and the appointment of African Americans to offices as Missouri governor and attorney general and has uttered pro-Confederate views.
The Republican Party in general launched a strategy during the late 1960s to capture the southern racist vote by opposing affirmative action, supporting the rights of states like South Carolina to fly the Confederate flag in front of public buildings, and similar positions. Dubya Bush himself spoke before the segregationist Bob Jones University in South Carolina, genuflected before the Confederate flag, and helped implement the racist Willie Horton ad during the 1988 presidential campaign of Bush Sr., who approved the racist ad after lobbying by his son. Both Bush's have appointed many racists - both subtle and overt - to high offices, who now work to further erode civil rights.
White House strategist Karl Rove also aided with the racist Horton ad and oversaw the racist 2000 South Carolina smear campaign against Sen. John McCain, which alluded to McCain's "black child," who actually is an adopted daughter from Bangladesh. While in Congress from 1979 until 1989, Dick Cheney opposed measures strengthening laws against housing discrimination and collecting hate-crime data. Cheney supported apartheid in the racist South African regime, even as it crumbled. Republican politicians in Georgia and South Carolina, such as Sonny Perdue, the new Republican governor of Georgia, were elected in 2002 on platforms that included "restoring pride" in the Confederate flag.
Who can forget the Florida 2000 recount battle, when white supremacists rallied for Republicans who embraced their support? What about Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's and former Bush-state-campaign-co-chair-Secretary-of-State-turned-Congresswoman Katherine Harris' openly racist system of purges before the 2000 election that took the names of mostly African-American voters off the rolls? What about the police roadblocks near black precincts on election days? And how about the Republican warnings in communities across the country about impending black voter fraud that usually occur a few days before an election, not to mention misleading fliers circulated by Republican operatives in African-American neighborhoods telling them of different days to vote or wrongly warning that their criminal backgrounds and parking tickets will be checked to try to intimidate them against voting?
Getting to Lott, Republicans still think highly enough of him to make Lott chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, despite his public banishment as Senate Majority Leader and a racist record that includes far more than a few errant comments. As our last elected president, Bill Clinton, recently said, "[Lott] just embarrassed [Republican leaders] by saying in Washington what they do on the back roads every day." And as Jack Hughes of evilGOPbastards.com writes, the majority of Republican senators who elected Lott as their leader "must either share his views [which were so often repeated that nobody could plead ignorance of Lott's sympathies], or were at the very least ‘comfortable' with a leader that held those beliefs."
Indeed, many senators, such as new Majority Leader Bill Frist and Don Nickles, the first Senate Republican to call for Lott's resignation as majority leader – not because he's a racist but because it was giving Republicans bad publicity - have a civil rights voting record nearly identical to Lott, according to the NAACP. One of the worst – perhaps even worse than Lott – is Jefferson Sessions of Alabama. Sessions has called a black assistant U.S. attorney "boy" and a white civil rights attorney a "disgrace to his race." As a prosecutor, Sessions pursued civil rights workers on phony voter fraud charges. As Alabama attorney general, he again pursued allegations of voter fraud in African-American communities, looked the other way in Anglo communities, and refused to aggressively investigate burnings and bombings of black churches. He also said he thought KKK members were "OK" until he heard some might have smoked marijuana and charged the NAACP with being "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." Despite such a past, Bush and other Republicans have campaigned for Sessions.
The other Republican senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby, callously equated Lott's verbal criticism in the media with an atrocious physical act of violence against African-Americans and others. "I think we should not lynch him," Shelby told CNN.
Frist, himself, has his own racial skeletons. He was a member of the all-white Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, Tenn., before running for the Senate in 1994. Some believe the National Republican Senatorial Committee headed by Frist was behind the intimidation of minority voters in recent years.
Then there is Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who as governor of that state, issued a proclamation recognizing "Confederate History and Heritage Month." Allen, the new National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, also displays a Confederate flag in his living room, according to a recent New York Times column.
Moving over to the U.S. House, there is Cass Ballenger. The white Republican from North Carolina recently told the Charlotte Observer that he had "segregationist" feelings and called former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, an African-American Democrat from Georgia, a "bitch." In an ensuring radio interview, Ballenger, the Deputy Majority Whip and a member of the House Republican Steering Committee who has a black lawn jockey in his yard that an aide recently painted white, refused to apologize to McKinney, calling her divisive, pushy, and "less than patriotic."
"One must wonder whether [Ballenger] would have made the same statement about a white congressman he considered to be pushy or divisive," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women. "I think not. His statements demonstrated beliefs about race and gender that do not belong in the U.S. Congress."
While some like Democrats.com and Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, called for Ballenger to resign, most ignored his racist comments, as they have other Republicans' racism. You can email Ballenger at http://ballenger.house.gov/contact.asp, if you don't think his views are right.
There are many other examples. In Texas, an aide to new Republican Sen. John Cornyn derisively dismissed the Democrats fielding a Hispanic, African-American, and Anglo in the top three state races in 2002 as a "racial quota." Meanwhile, the top three Republican candidates were – you guessed it – white. So were the Republicans fielding the usual white-only quota?
Rep. Tom Craddick, the new Texas House Republican leader, was one of a small group to vote against establishing a Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday in 1987. He repeated his opposition to the holiday in a 1991 vote that clarified the day. Unlike Lott, Craddick has yet to publicly apologize for those votes.
In Rochester, N.Y., Monroe County Executive Jack Doyle, a white Republican, recently derided Mayor William Johnson Jr., a black Democrat. "If there was a mayor that looked like me, it would be a whole different landscape," Doyle told a local reporter.
A recent article by USA Today cited several other examples of recent insensitive remarks made by Republican public officials and none by Democratic officials because reporters could not find any – believe me, they would have included some by Democrats if they found them. Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Fritz Hollings of South Carolina have made some racist remarks in the past, but not recently enough to run in that article.
Racism, especially subtle racism, does exist in many people across the board. It especially comes out during times of crisis. In the week following September 11, 2001, Arab-Americans – a group that includes my wife and two children - reported a significant upswing in hate crimes, including murders, against them. A Gallup poll conducted September 14-15 found respondents evenly divided over whether Arab-Americans should be required to carry special identity cards. Two late September polls found that most respondents favored police profiling of Arab-Americans. A December 2001 poll by the Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Illinois found that more than 25 percent of respondents said Arab-Americans should surrender more rights than others.
Profiling someone simply due to his or her race is racism, period. You can always justify your racism by saying you are concerned about your security. But who's to say the next terrorist won't be white like Timothy McVeigh who bombed the Oklahoma building in 1995? Who's to say the next terrorist won't be white like the Irish Republican Army? Who's to say the next terrorist won't be white like the KKK? Who's to say the next terrorist won't be white like most mass murderers are?
Should we implement special profiling against white people like me because of the McVeigh's and Duke's of the world? I don't recall similar polls favoring racial profiling of white Americans after the 1995 Oklahoma bombing. I don't recall polls favoring profiling of white Americans after white Texan George Hennard drove his truck into a Luby's Cafeteria and killed 23 people in a terrorism act.
Another 2001 Gallup Poll found that 60 percent of white respondents believed that black Americans were not treated the same as whites in this country. That rocketed to 91 percent among African-American respondents. Some 47 percent of black respondents said they experienced discrimination in stores, by the police, and in other situations in the previous month.
I've long wondered how many people there are who secretly harbor racist views they would denounce in public. I recently contacted the authors of 20 postings to white supremacist Web sites, asking if I could quote them using their real names. Only three replied back granting permission to use their names.
Jessica Coleman of Texas claimed her grandfather was "a powerful knight [of the KKK] in South Carolina," and she thought all blacks should be shipped "back to Africa and all of the wetbacks back to Mexico." Tom of New Jersey, who would not give his last name, wrote about a high school field trip to Philadelphia, which sickened him so much to see blacks that he "wanted to take out a machine gun and shoot everyone of them." Are these people really just aberrations to be ignored again until the next major race-related blow-up in our country? Or do they represent the suppressed voices inside the average white Republican – and, yes, some Democrats - who doesn't dare let such thoughts reach the surface?
That's why I call Republicans like Bush and Cheney and Bennett, who publicly embrace Martin Luther King Jr. as they call for a colorblind society, yet live in their mostly-white neighborhoods and practice racism when it suits their political agenda, closet racists. They like to point out that lynching black people is wrong as they oppose proposals that would do more to bring about real equality and execute racist campaigns – as Bush did against McCain in South Carolina in 2000 – to gain political victory.
Would such closet racists live next to African-American families? I have for more than six years, and the only problems we have had were with some white neighbors. Living in a multi-cultural neighborhood is part of my contribution to carry out what a lot of Republicans only give lip service to, and go beyond words to live out our desire for a truly colorblind society.
I respect my Republican parents and what they did for me, but I don't like their racist comments, such as they hope black people don't buy the homes up for sale on their blocks. I don't know what has made me so different from my parents on this matter. I've been this way since as a young child I was one of the few to befriend the only African-American student in our elementary school. A psychic once told me I was black in a past life. Maybe that's it. Maybe in a past life, I actually walked in the shoes of a slave and experienced the discrimination that I can't stand today. Maybe that's the only way a white American can really understand what a black American experiences – to walk in his or her shoes. Maybe that's the only way we can make some real progress on race relations.
Anyways, I can't recall such comments about hoping African-Americans don't move on the block coming from Democrats I know in recent years. In the aftermath of the Lott debacle, Republicans, as usual, tried to turn the tables on Democrats and highlight the latter party's racist past, as seen in members like Sen. Byrd.
But that's like Bush and other Republicans saying Democrats took money from Enron when Republicans took three or four times as much. The sins are not of the same magnitude. When more than, say, 50 percent of current Republicans exhibit racist tendencies and less than, say, 20 percent of Democrats do, you can't paint a broad stroke and say both parties exhibit racism and just leave it at that. For every Sen. Byrd Republicans bring up, I can counter with five Sen. Lotts and Sen. Sessions and Sen. Frists and Rep. Ballengers and Dubya Bush's.
The subtle and overt racism of the Republican Party is a stench they have to live with, and no amount of history rewriting by Republican apologists can eradicate that smell. To eradicate it, they must admit that racism in their party goes far beyond Lott and make at least as much progress on advancing race relations as the Democratic Party has. Republicans have not done that, and I doubt they will while I'm still alive here.
As the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday approaches, these subtle racist Republicans will talk like they have supported King's vision of a colorblind society and African-American rights all along, when their records and actions speak otherwise. That's just more of the Republican con job. Don't buy that crap.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Those of us who came of age with the soul-searching prose of Anais Nin tucked under one arm and the cerebral feminist-treatise of Nancy Friday under the other see the anti-choice movement as about something other than an altruistic desire to save lives.
The movement – given fangs by the Bush administration – has just scored it’s first coup with the new South Dakota law that bans all abortions except those needed to save a would-be mother’s life.
The new legislation has the immediate effect of denying women their constitutional right to privacy and serves the more far-reaching goal of legislating a code of conduct for women.
The well-worn counterpoint to the anti-choicers assertions that this is about saving lives is that, if they really cherished every life, they wouldn’t be so zealous about waging war, so adamant about capital punishment, so sanctimonious in regard to the impoverished, so off-hand about eating meat.
But, again, it’s not about life. It’s about control. Representative Bill Napoli of South Dakota reveled what’s really in the hearts of many of these “pro-lifers.” In this statement to the press he ponders who may be eligible for an abortion:
“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”
Creepy. I wish you could hear the actual sound bite. Not to defile the high standards of Internet discourse, but the guy sounds like he’s about to cream his pants.
Virgin. Religious. Brutalized. Sodomized.
Do you see my point? Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is punishment for not being a virgin and for not being religious… for not submitting to the patriarchal vision of femininity.
Which leads me to my next point: this fundamentalist desire for control and homogeny leads to sexual repression of the Roy Kohn brand which results in sexual perversion of the Catholic church brand.
To call them hypocrites misses the point. They’re terrified.--Posted by Kay
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Gosh... I wonder what they'll do.
“Unless the senate votes to raise the debt ceiling -- the amount of money we're legally allowed to owe as a country -- then the U.S. will default on its loans for the first time in our history, starting sometime the week of March 20th. Since Bush has been president, the deficit has gone up three trillion dollars. That means, if you take all of the debt ever accrued by this country (ever in our entire history since 1776 up until the time Bush became president)… if you took all that debt and added it all up, you’d still be 40 percent shy of what Bush has accumulated in debt in the five years that he’s been president.
When you think red for Republican, think red ink.”—Rachel Maddow
Posted by Kay