Monday, July 28, 2008

Week of 07/28/2008

The Failure of Accountability
– by David Matthews 2

It was a show trial in ways that were never considered before.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee convened on July 25 to hear charges levied against the President of the United States of America, the Vice-President, and their employees. Charges of criminal acts, charges of abuse of power, and charges of subverting the Constitution itself.

Under normal conditions, such charges would be followed by articles of impeachment to be present before the full body of the House and voted upon. But this was not a normal meeting. These were not normal proceedings.

There will never be articles of impeachment brought up at the conclusion of these hearings. The accusations being levied and weighed against President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney and their surrogates and subordinates will go no further than those hearings. The outrage being exhibited by the members of the Judiciary Committee and those who showed up to testify, as well as those sitting in the audience, would go unsatisfied.

They cannot even refer to the proceedings as an IMPEACHMENT hearing, nor could they even accuse the White House of actually committing any kind of offense, criminal or otherwise!

It was, in effect, a show trial in the absolutely LITERAL sense. A trial just for show. There would be no resolution at the end of the hearings. No convictions or acquittals. No judgments of ANY kind, save of the ones we would have for the orchestrators of this farce.

And that is what it is, people. It is a FARCE! It is a FRAUD! It is a HOAX! It is nothing less than a slap in the face of every American that has ever lived, fought, suffered, and died for this country.

It’s not that the charges are made-up. The accusations made against the Bush White House have been out there for years now, replayed and rehashed through newsgroups and liberal talk radio programs. There has been a continual demand for something to be done about these charges.

And it’s not like there has been an absence of those inside Congress pushing for articles of impeachment. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has introduced articles of impeachment not once but twice.

No, the fault lies squarely on the heads of the hierarchy of the Democrats who control the Congress.

It falls squarely on the heads of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and on Judiciary Committee chairman, Michigan Congressman John Conyers. THEY are the ones that have deliberately, intentionally, and systematically stymied all calls for impeachment and are the ones responsible for fabricating a HOAX on America, paying meticulous attention to the fact that the words “impeachment” are NEVER used in the proceedings and that all members pay attention to the rules that prohibit saying anything that “demeans” the Bush Imperium.

It all boils down to one word: accountability.

Who does the President of the United States answer to?

For that matter, who do the members of Congress answer to?

We’d like to say “they answer to the American people”, but I seriously doubt that they really do. Not anymore. Certainly not today. Maybe even not ever.

Yes, the voters can vote for someone different at the next election, but they can’t really VOTE OUT anyone. The last actual RECALL of an elected official was in California in 2003. Voters are prohibited by the US Constitution from recalling a member of Congress.

So short of an actual act of insurrection, there really is NOTHING that can be done to a member of Congress until the next election. And then, of course, that member of Congress can engage in a nasty dirty campaign that sucks the life out of any voter initiative, leaving their own special interest groups as the only people who vote.

So really… Conyers and Pelosi, and for that matter Kucinich, answer to… NOBODY! Nobody outside of their own hierarchy in the Congress anyway.

So if members of Congress, who are supposed to represent the American people, are answerable to NOBODY outside of their own hierarchy, who does President George W. Bush answer to?

Outside of his wife… NOBODY!

Yes, the President COULD be impeached by Congress, starting with articles of impeachment from the House and moving on to a full trial and ouster vote by the Senate. But we’ve been down the road to impeachment only TWICE in American history against a sitting resident of the White House. In both instances, the US Senate FAILED to oust the sitting president for their crimes.

And in the case of then-President Bill Clinton, the subject over which he was impeached was so trivial it was the source for many late-night TV jokes. It had nothing to do with his actual job AS president and more to do with the things he did AS president. He was NEVER impeached over the actual substantive crimes done AS president. He was never impeached over the White House Travel Office, or over the handling of the Rose Law Firm billing records pertaining to the Whitewater investigation. The ONLY thing that he was impeached over was lying under oath about an affair.

You would think that after the Republicans were willing to put their own careers on the line over something that was ultimately SO trivial, that the Democrats would be eager to leap at the opportunity to go after ACTUAL and SUBSTANTIVE abuses of power! The very abuses of power that their icon, Thomas Jefferson, rallied against over two centuries ago!

And yet the hierarchy of the Congress under Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made it absolutely clear that they WILL NOT hold the President of the United States, or the Vice-President of the United States, or ANY of their subordinates or surrogates, accountable for ANY acts they may be accused of doing.

Let’s get brutally honest here… this blatant and unashamed refusal of the Congress to hold the Executive Branch to ANY measure of accountability isn’t just the making of a tyranny, the sustainment of a monster that America’s own founding fathers warned and feared would eventually rear its ugly head, but it is the final piece of proof that this country is now, and perhaps has been for a while now, a FIEFDOM!

We have replaced lords and ministers with Congressmen and Senators. We have replaced barons and dukes with Democrat and Republican party leaders. And they have carefully and meticulously set themselves up so that they are answerable only to themselves and to their peers, NOT to the very people they CLAIM to represent!

It is no wonder, then, why they act with wanton disregard when it comes to governing this nation. Why they spend this country’s budget recklessly to the point where it WILL go into bankruptcy within a decade. Why they write and enact energy policies and banking laws that enslave Americans and then spend more time bailing out the perpetrators than in helping the enslaved. Why they carry themselves with full and complete impunity.

They do so because they know that they cannot be held accountable for it. They have crafted a system that ensures that they could commit outright murder on primetime television and they would never have to answer for it. Not to a judge, not to a court of law, and certainly not to the people that they claim to represent.

Unfortunately we also share some of that blame. WE don’t insist on accountability! We don’t want to hold our so-called “representatives” to any kind of accountability. We don’t march. We don’t protest. We actually scoff at protesters! We condemn them as they are sent to little concentration camps that our politicians hypocritically call “free speech zones”. At the very best we send emails and faxes, and then we think that they actually care when we get an automated response from them. In truth an automated response says that they DO NOT care, and that your message will NEVER reach their eyes or ears. Ever.

We get caught up in the pre-manufactured cult-like frenzies designed to keep us in place and to keep us from thinking that SOMETHING needs to be done. We are brainwashed into thinking that any kind of action our political leaders do is automatically legitimate, reasonable, justified, and should be carried out without question. We say “better them than us” when we used to say “there but for the fates go I”.

And when the time comes for us to vote… the one time that we have some modicum of control in government… most of us will abstain! We will be derelict in our duties, negligent in our responsibilities, and utter FAILURES as citizens. Most of us will claim that we won’t have the time, or we don’t really know the candidates, or that we don’t even know where the polling places are. We’ll shoot down the candidates that we really want to support, claiming that our vote for that kind of candidate “won’t count” and that the candidate “can’t win”. We’ll rationalize voting for the next-to-worst candidate, saying only that they would be not AS BAD as the other guy.

All the while we will be playing right into the hands of the keepers of this fiefdom that we call America. After all, a con can only work if the victim plays into it.

The people who showed up at the House hearing this past Friday, the ones holding up signs saying “Impeach Bush” and cheering or booing politicians based on their stances on the subject… THOSE people are far more worthy of living in a free nation than the rest of the great unwashed. They at least are not afraid to take part in the process, even thought they know that it will pretty much be just for show.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Week of 07/21/2008

Failures All Around
– by David Matthews 2

After getting yet another verbal complaint from President George W. Bush for the perceived inability to carry out his tasks, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally said what many in America have been saying for quite some time.

"You know,” she said on CNN, “God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States, a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject…"

“A total failure.”

It’s one thing to criticize a particular policy, or perhaps a particular course of action, and call that a failure, but this really hits home to say that EVERYTHING that our Doofus-in-Chief did has been a TOTAL FAILURE.

Even this commentator, for all that I have said about the Texas Doofus, will not go so far as to characterize the Bush Imperium as being a “total failure”, simply because that term covers everything that has been done. He’s been doing a great job for the oil kingpins, keeping their stranglehold on America firmly in place and keeping them profitable. He did a great job for the military-industrial complex, keeping them busy with manufacturing calls for bombs and tanks and guns.

“Total Failure”? I wouldn’t say that. We toppled Saddam Hussein from power and brought him to justice so he could be put to death by the Iraqis. That’s not a failure. The Bush Imperium actually did something RIGHT for a change. They didn’t stop after dropping a few bombs like Bill Clinton did. Clinton’s handling of Iraq was a FAILURE.

Sadly, though, there seems to be more things that have gone WRONG with the Bush Imperium than gone right.

Hurricane Katrina is probably the biggest failure on the Imperium’s record. This is the one that opened the public’s collective eyes to the fact that everything isn’t as rosy as the Imperium has been selling it. This was more than just a failure of FEMA to do what needs to be done. This was a failure of leadership on top as well. This was the FAILURE of a president to show leadership during a nationwide crisis. Instead of racing the storm to get from his vacation to the White House, Bush Junior instead went to a political fundraiser in California. Then, when he finally decided to return to Washington, the crisis was already a nationwide fiasco, and he decided to just do a fly-over of the area. It was a pompous gesture that demonstrated for the first time just how clueless he was to the problems Americans were dealing with at the time.

Afghanistan is another current FAILURE. Yes, the Taliban were overthrown from government, but they weren’t shut down. The seeds of revolt were already in place in that country, so all that was needed was a little encouragement and some support from us, which we gave after 9/11. That’s why the Taliban lost power so relatively quickly.

But that doesn’t mean that they were defeated! Quite the contrary, Mullah Omar made a deal that allowed him and the rest of his gang of Gestapo theocrats to escape to the mountains, along with the hierarchy of the al Qaeda organization… the very monsters that Bush Junior pledged would be hunted down and “brought to justice”. They haven’t been “brought to justice” yet, have they? Nope. And THAT is a FAILURE of the Bush Imperium in and of itself.

And the fact of the matter is that having the Taliban still posing a threat to the stability in that country is a clear sign of FAILURE of the Bush Imperium to finish what they started. They were simply too damned obsessed with morphing the war over to Iraq to consider the consequences of their ineptitude. You can’t just put a war “on hold” like they did with Afghanistan.

It is true that the Imperium has been operating in a delusion bubble of their own creation on MANY issues. Their blanket declaration that the media will not show flag-draped caskets or cover military funerals has led to the charge that they don’t care about the human losses. Their insistence that servicemen and women serve three, four, and even five tours of duty… with longer tours, with less down-time, and without any consideration to the consequences of those decisions, further aggravates that perception of not caring about the human factor.

Then we have the energy problem. Gas consumption has been a problem for DECADES now, but it really reared its ugly head in 2005, just months before Hurricane Katrina hit Port Fourchon made things even worse. The Bush Imperium used this to push for an energy policy that was personally crafted by Vice President Dick Cheney and was stalled in the Congress. (Why it was stalled in a filibuster-proofed Republican-dominated Congress is a mystery in and of itself.) Then, when it WAS put before the President for his signature, he had the audacity to say “oh, yeah, by the way this won’t fix any of our energy problems anytime soon.”

The fact that nobody bothered to actually do ANYTHING with this issue UNTIL it was way too late is yet another FAILURE on behalf of the Bush Imperium. And now, of course, with less than six months to go before the Imperium thankfully falls into the trash bin of history, there’s really no incentive for them to do anything to fix the problem.

The economy is yet another FAILURE that is tattooed on the Imperium’s head. Sure the original tax cuts of 2001 helped! But a lot of the so-called “growth” that Bush Junior prided himself with came from overinflated housing values, and the push for people to take loans out BASED on those overinflated values. They messed with the banking rules, they messed with the bankruptcy rules, they messed with corporate accountability rules, they failed to address the growing dependency on oil from foreign sources, and then they put themselves into their delusion bubble and said that NONE of those things would ever derail the economy.

And then, when those things DID affect the economy for the worse, the Imperium REFUSED to admit there was a problem. Even to this very day, George W. Bush REFUSES to admit that the economy is heading towards a recession, if not towards something worse. He still refers to it as a “slowdown”, even though his own hand-picked Federal Reserve Board chairman has expressed concerns.

Failure to recognize a problem as it is happening, never mind recognizing it BEFORE it becomes a problem, is a FAILURE of leadership. Equally bad is trying to wait out a problem until it can be passed on to someone else, and I would dare suspect that is the true reason why the Imperium is continuing with its delusions. They’re refusing to say anything is wrong until AFTER the next person is in office. And that is a far worse kind of failure than one through ignorance.

But in every failure that befalls the White House under George W. Bush, there is one little truth that Speaker Pelosi refuses to admit to: Bush Junior did not fail on his own. He had help.

Let’s get brutally honest here… Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are just as much of a FAILURE to the American people as George W. Bush has been. They are perhaps even MORE of a failure that Bush Junior, because they have FAILED to do their jobs to keep Junior’s failures in check.

Sure the argument can be made that many of Bush Junior’s failures were attributed to a rubber-stamping Congress under Republican domination. But that particular argument FAILS in January of 2007, when Pelosi and Reid took over the Congress and put it back in Democrat hands. At that point it becomes THEIR responsibility to keep White House abuses in check, and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have specifically FAILED to do that! They have not only FAILED, but they have FAILED MISERABLY.

Ever since the time the Dems took over Congress, this commentator has often wondered why they have systematically FAILED to do their jobs. Coming up with a fluff 100-day schedule to mimic the GOP’s “Contract with America” plan was something of a no-brainer for them. But substantive actions to keep down reckless spending, putting an end to the stripping of civil liberties, and having the White House answer to some of their abuses of power to things such as the Valerie Plame leak, the prosecutor firings, and possible involvement in the prosecution and conviction of a state governor, have all been exercises in futility. Every measure that the Bush Imperium wanted, THEY STILL GOT!

And I have seen that frustration with liberal groups. I have SEEN their outrage, their outright ANGER, at Pelosi and Reid specifically for their systematic FAILURES to the jobs they were elected to do. There are actually calls for Pelosi to RESIGN for her systematic FAILURES as House Speaker.

I have often wondered why Pelosi and Reid would do that. Why would they betray their base, never mind betray America, and become nothing more than boot-licking rubberstampers to the Imperium?

Perhaps there was some clandestine meeting between them and the White House whereby some agreement was made in the name of “political expediency”. Maybe something along the lines of “give us what we want, or we will turn our neocon attack dogs on you and your family”. Or maybe even nothing that threatening. Maybe they were convinced that if they continue to let the Imperium have their way that it would spur voters to elect a Democrat to the White House.

That would certainly explain the grumblings that Pelosi has been making of late. She was holding up to her part of the deal, keeping her liberal underlings stymied and frustrated, only to have Bush and Company continue to snipe and attack her and whine like a spoiled brat about not groveling fast enough. I sure she feels betrayed by the Imperium. That would drive anyone to make an impulsive comment like the one she made this past week.

“Total failure”.

No, Madam Speaker, the White House under George W. Bush has not been a TOTAL failure. For all of their faults, dirty dealings, and backstabbings, they still managed to do a couple of things right.

YOUR office, on the other hand, has done nothing but put on sham actions and continued the rubber-stamping legacy of your Republican predecessor. You sabotage calls for impeachment at every opportunity, you allow Imperium members to outright ignore subpoenas instead of calling for the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest them (which is his job in the first place), and you let the MINORITY party call the shots on behalf of the White House.

And now, of course, it’s too late to do anything significant. The Bush Imperium has less than six months of life left to it. The election season is already upon us, and all focus is placed on who will replace Bush Junior in that Oval Office. The people behind the Imperium’s actions… Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, and the rest… will get away with any kind of dirty dealings that they are connected with, and they will have YOU to personally thank for that, because you were the one that sabotaged any calls for accountability from the moment you took over as House Speaker. The moment you said “impeachment is off the table”, you sabotaged yourself, your party, and the American people.

The REAL “total failure”, Madam Speaker, is yourself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Week of 07/14/2008

Making Matters Worse
– by David Matthews 2

Let’s suppose that you’re onboard a boat that has a leak in the side and you find out that you’re not going to make it to dry ground before the boat completely submerges. Do you:

(A) Find some way to continue to float until you can make it to dry ground.

(B) Curl up in a ball and cry about not remembering to bring a life jacket.

(C) Take an axe and chop open a hole in the bottom of the boat so that the leaking water will just drain away.

We would all think that we would want to try the first option. Some of us will admit that we will probably do the second. And as crazy as it may sound, and as much as they will deny it, some people actually will do the last option thinking it is a legitimate course of action.

We don’t like to admit that we could make matters worse, but we still do it. You’re really having a bad day and someone comes along and just makes it worse. Sometimes it’s done out of ignorance. Sometimes it’s just really bad timing. Sometimes it’s done because it is the most opportune time for them to act. Sometimes it’s done maliciously.

Take America’s economy… please.

When times are great, we all would like to prosper from it. But when times are not so great, it seems like everyone wants someone else to bear the burden and we still want the good times to go on like nothing has happened.

Unfortunately our economy is more intricately-woven than we would wish it to be. When times are great, we all prosper. But when times start to sour, then we all go down together.

America’s economy under George W. Bush was never as great as the Washington spin machine want us to believe it has been, even during the so-called “good times”. Corporate profits were up, but real wages didn’t match. They certainly didn’t keep up with the ever-rising cost of living. The bulk of America’s “wealth” came through the rise in housing prices, and in borrowing ON that “wealth”, which during the infamous Housing Bubble gave people the having the illusion of having more wealth than they really had.

But hidden inside that “prosperity” were some serious problems. Banking and bankruptcy rules were changed to better benefit the lending institutions. An abysmal and unforgivable energy policy continued to place America’s energy resources under the grip of foreign nations and market speculators. Subprime lending practices allowed banks to play hard, fast, and loose with customers. Shoddy inspections would lead to poisoning of our food and products.

It was only a matter of time before it would all start to collapse.

As with all previous recent economic downturns, it was the price of gasoline that started this one. Although ignored by the government (and others), the ever-increasing rise in gasoline prices above and beyond the cost of living caused a chain reaction to the economy. Higher fuel prices meant higher prices for goods and services. Higher prices meant less available money for discretionary spending. Times would get tougher. Businesses would have to cut back on bonuses, perks, and even stop hiring or start laying people off.

Our economic ship is sinking. Now we have to do something about it.

And unfortunately there are still those who would continue to take an axe to the bottom of our sinking economic ship in hopes of “draining the water”. And this axe comes in many forms.

Bad Service – Times are tough. People have to work harder and harder to make ends meet. There is more of a demand placed on those businesses to keep staying profitable and still cut costs at all corners. This added stress leads to bad service.

This is painfully true with the airline industry. Once upon a time you could go to any airport in America and fly for as low as $20 one-way! Today you’re lucky if you’re paying under $100 for a one-way flight, and you have to be there at least TWO HOURS in advance, not counting the time you would have to spend going through airport security.

And there is a fee for EVERYTHING on an airplane now! I’m waiting for one of the carriers to announce a fee for BREATHING! You know it’s a matter of time before they do.

The airlines want you to believe that it is all because of the high cost of fuel

To make matters worse, airlines like Southwest Air have instituted their own personal unofficial dress code. If you dress too attractively, or if you wear a tee-shirt with a message that someone doesn’t like, they can kick you off the plane. Your flight with them is considered a LUXURY, and done so at THEIR discretion, not yours.

Delays have gotten worse too. An American Airline flight going from Miami to New York had to be cancelled because the passengers complained too loudly about the excessive delays from the flight crew. And with more overbooking and more congested airports, not to mention the added security imposed on the passengers, the delays are only going to get worse and worse.

Americans are now flying the HOSTILE skies, and it is believed from some sources that it has cost the airlines anywhere up to $11 BILLION because of it. And that is not counting the losses incurred by the hotels, restaurants, and tourist groups.

Bad Banks – Lending institutions have been playing hard, fast, and loose with all the money they have… theirs and ours. They have bought and sold debt like so many baseball cards. Sure you may be writing the checks to the same place, but you really don’t know who holds your debt now.

And now that the banks got all the changes they wanted (including to personal bankruptcy) from George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress, they get to screw with us over now that the times are getting tough.

Terms of Agreement keep getting sent out… if you’re late on any payment for any reason, your interest rate on ALL of your credit card debt goes up and up. Credit card lenders are also reducing the maximum credit limit, sometimes lowering it to BELOW what holders currently owe. The end result? More penalties, not just for THAT lender but for any other lender that gave you a credit card.

Now adding to that is the federal government – under George W. Bush – bailing out bad institutions like Bear Sterns, and shutting down others like IndyMac. Other lending institutions will follow. Meanwhile the average consumer with debt is getting squeezed without any kind of help from the government.

Bad Government – George W. Bush believed that handing out money would be the cure to America’s ailment. Just give out money (and a few choice tax cuts) and the economy will be back in black.

And if you believe that, then I have some real estate in the North Pole for you!

Unfortunately nothing really changed to fix the SOURCES of our fiscal ailments. Foreclosures are still expected to strip Americans of their most valued asset well into 2009 and quite possibly beyond. The credit card companies haven’t stopped screwing over Americans. The collapse of lending institutions will continue and get worse. Our energy policy is still abysmal and inexcusable.

But there’s more involved than just bad governing on a federal level.

Rising foreclosures have also affected state and local governments. As whole neighborhoods are getting driven into foreclosure, there is nobody there to pay the property taxes on those homes. Local communities need those taxes to keep their services going, so they were have to cut some services and/or shift the burden onto those remaining homeowners and hope that they aren’t driven out as well.

In Atlanta, the area has been hit not only with a souring economy, but also with a crippling drought. This has put the taxpayers into an even worse bind, because they are first being told by Governor Sonny Perdue that they have to cut back on the water they use, and then they are being told by their local officials that because people are using less water, they have to raise the water bill rates even higher.

The whole thing is asinine, plain and simple. SOMEONE in government has to be willing to take a hit, and nobody wants to be the one doing it, so they’re fobbing it all off on the public and that is only serving to make matters worse.

And then there is…

DENIAL – And I’m not talking about “de name of de river in Egypt”!

Since the first step of dealing with a problem is admitting that there IS a problem, it’s pretty obvious that most of the failures on the federal level are coming from those in government FAILING to admit that there is a problem to begin with.

For the longest time, George W. Bush FAILED to admit that there was a problem with the economy, even when more and more people began to see the signs of it happening. He REFUSED to admit there was a problem, and then when he finally had to admit that there was a “slowdown”, he just decided to throw some money at the problem and hope that it would go away.

Likewise many conservatives and neo-conservatives are continuing to live and breathe in a bubble of delusion; shut off from reality itself and insulated by the money in their own bank accounts. Money that some of them made FROM the problems we are currently experiencing.

Take, for instance, former GOP Senator Phil Gramm of Texas. Gramm was one of the authors of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which was used to allow market speculators to take over the energy industry. That, by the way, includes the price of oil. This allowed companies like Enron to manipulate the energy market, and also hastened its collapse. Gramm’s wife was on the board of directors for Enron. Gramm is currently an executive with the Swiss-based UBS, the financial investment company that picked up the pieces of Enron.

The former Senator is on the record as saying that there is no recession; that it’s all in our collective heads. NEVER MIND the skyrocketing price of oil and the skyrocketing price of gasoline (which a large part is from the market speculators brought in BY Gramm). NEVER MIND the climbing price of goods and services directly related to the rise in fuel costs. NEVER MIND the thousands of jobs lost, and thousands more that WILL be lost. NEVER MIND the bankruptcies and the foreclosures. It’s all in our heads, according to the man who was responsible for helping many of our problems come to be.

By the way, it should be noted that Phil Gramm is also Senator John McCain’s most valued economic advisor in his run for the 2008 Presidential Election. Senator McCain had to publicly distance himself from his “economic brain”, but the fact of the matter is that there are A LOT of conservatives and neo-conservatives that agree with Gramm. And they can AFFORD to live comfortably in that delusion-bubble of theirs and spout off their outright LIES about how GREAT the economy really is and that anything to the contrary is just a myth.

Let’s get brutally honest here… as long as all of these factors are in play, our economy will continue to swirl down the toilet!

The basic problem is this: nobody wants to take responsibility for the messes they created. The banks create a scam that they should have known would bite them in the ass, and they refuse to take the hit for it. Government officials helped to facilitate the scam that they also should have known would bit them in the ass, and they also refuse to take the hit for it. They all expect the consumers to burden the cost and the blame for these things that THEY THEMSELVES created.

The overall consumer, meanwhile, is struggling, just trying to keep up with the wave on top of wave of bad news. Higher prices, shoddy oversight, bad quality, bad service, inept government. They’re doing everything they can to prevent from curling up into a ball in sheer frustration. We certainly don’t need any of these jackasses making matters worse. At the very least, if these jackasses don’t want to be part of the solution, then they need to stop trying to make the problem even worse, because it will otherwise come back to hurt them in ways that they will not expect.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Week of 07/07/2008

How Obama Can Still Lose The Election
– by David Matthews 2

I am often guilty of overthinking. I can have something in my head and be so fixated on how wonderful it would be to have that thing, that I would forget to DO that thing. For instance, I could put it into my head what a wonderful job I could be working, complete with the pay and the perks and everything, and then realize that I don’t HAVE it yet, and that I have to actually APPLY for it, and by that time the job is already filled.

Half of my problem with relationships is pretty much the same way. I’m often so fixated on the IDEA of the relationship that I forget to ask the girl out, and usually by then she’s wrapped herself around the arm of someone who may not be better than me… and in some instances even worse… but is still someone who was able to not overthink themselves and actually DO what needs to be done.

Likewise, politicians can get so caught up on believing that they have already WON the election that they can end up LOSING it. Vice-President Al Gore, and for that matter the whole Democratic Party, firmly believed that once the nomination was in that his ascendancy to the Oval Office would be a sure thing in 2000. He forgot that he still had to win the election, and, as we all found out the hard way with the Florida Fiasco, he didn’t really get to do that.

Ditto for John Kerry. He was so fixated on showing that he wasn’t George W. Bush that he forgot to actually WIN the 2004 Election! That should be somewhat humbling, shouldn’t it? Here he was spending all of this time telling people why he wasn’t like the current president and pretty much no time demonstrating why he would be a BETTER alternative to Bush Junior. There is a difference between the two.

So you would think that the Democrats would LEARN from these examples and not make the same mistakes again, right? Wrong.

The Democrats seem to be hell-bound on letting history repeat itself yet again, this time through the charismatic personae that is Barack Obama.

Having supposedly secured the Democratic nomination (in theory until it can be formalized at the national convention), Obama has now made the stereotypical shift from appeasing liberals to appeasing what he believes is “the center”.

Unfortunately Obama’s version of “the center” is nothing of the sort.

Obama is now courting evangelicals, promising to continue the theocratic programs that the Bush Imperium rammed down America’s throat. Conservatives and conservative sycophants like Fox News falsely claim that Obama is just appealing to the “evangelical left”, but the truth of the matter is that it was the right-wing ultra-conservative bible-thumpers that DEMANDED AND GOT a “Department of God” in the White House. THEY were the ones pushing for the “faith-based initiatives”, and it was the “evangelical left” that were OPPOSING such programs, and they still are!

The tactic is easy to see, if somewhat flawed. Obama believes that if he can steal the bible-thumpers away from John McCain, then McCain loses all of his support in the general election. Conservatives really are not happy with McCain and are still smarting from the fact that McCain managed to hoodwink the Republican voters in the primaries and caucuses. They’ll back him in the election because he promises to keep the spirit of the Bush Imperium going, but they still wish that someone better was waiving their banner.

There’s just one small problem: Barack Obama is NOT that “someone better”! In fact, Obama’s attempts at swaying the evangelicals to his side may just backfire and force them to embrace McCain even more than they already are.

That’s not all. Obama has also flip-flopped on certain legislative issues, such as supporting a bill that grants immunity to the telecommunications companies as part of the Bush Imperium’s latest wiretap power-grab. It was one thing to not be in Washington when the PATRIOT Act was passed, or when the initial Iraq War authorization was up for debate, but it is another thing entirely to have a key element of the Bush Imperium in your grasp and you actually SUPPORT it, even though your own electoral base OPPOSES it and is begging and pleading and even PRAYING that someone steps in and slams on the brakes.

Let’s get brutally honest here… if Barack Obama wants to become the next president of the United States, then he needs to avoid making the same mistakes that cost the Democrats in 2000 and 2004!

Now before I go any further, I should point out that I am NOT an Obama supporter. I am a political cynic and libertarian, and, as such, I cannot in good conscience support any of Obama’s “share the wealth” economic ideas and socialist programs. But I have seen an incredible groundswell of popularity coming from this campaign that, even if I don’t agree with, could very well change the face of politics for the better if it isn’t ruined by the same mentalities that have poisoned politics for the past few decades. It would certainly be a waste to see that talent and idealism ruined by the people who bring nothing but failure.

So here are the essential things that Obama needs to do to avoid joining Gore and Kerry in the Hall of Presidential FAILURES:

DO NOT act like the election is already a done deal! This was the mistake that Hillary Rodham Clinton made all during her primary and caucus run. She believed that the whole primary and caucus trip would be a formality and that all she would have to do is make it to the convention and she would be handed the nomination.

Likewise, Obama cannot act like the November election is a sure thing. Yes he has charisma and yes he runs on this platform of “hope”, but those things will not put him in the White House. He still needs to PROVE why he is the BETTER candidate. He needs to give the voters a reason to not only vote, but to vote FOR HIM.

STOP PANDERING! Do you know what kind of person pretends to be all things to all people? A charlatan. The kind of mealy-mouthed politician that has infested Washington DC almost since day one that people find disgusting and abhorrent and needs to be treated like the cockroaches that they are.

The typical election flip-flop works this way: you spend the first half of the election season pandering and catering to the various political extremist factions of your party. You promise the moon and you promise to deliver it personally gift-wrapped to get the support of those primary and caucus voters. Then after you secure the nomination, you spend the other half of the season pandering to “the middle”, talking about the struggles of middle-class America, trying to be a centrist, claiming to be willing to work with all groups.

Here’s the problem: if you’ve just spend all of your time appeasing the extremists, then you’re alienating them when you do the flip-flop. You essentially proved that your support wasn’t genuine, and that your promises were for naught. And the folks in “the center” haven’t exactly been living in a vacuum either! They’re watching you flip-flop as well and they’re now asking if your support to them is now genuine. So you’re pissing off one group and your support with the other is questionable at best.

Obama needs to STOP pandering to groups! John McCain has spent the better part of the past four years doing just that in order to build up his hesitant neo-conservative support, and the neo-cons still regard him as something of a fraud. If Obama wants to be better than that, then Obama needs to stop doing the same thing.

Abraham Lincoln said that “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” The same holds true to political support. Work with the groups that you identify the best with and let the others decide whether or not they can work with you. Stop trying to be all things to all people because you never will be.

Neutralize your opponents, don’t try to sway them. If public opinion polls are to be believed, less than a third of Americans support George W. Bush. Those are the people that John McCain has been sucking up to. They live in a cult-induced fear and they thrive by spreading fear. If you’re running your campaign on hope, then you have no business whatsoever trying to suck up to them, because those people will suck the life right out of you and your campaign!

Senator Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror in 1950’s America thrived on these groups, and it was sustained by the very fear-mongering that the neo-cons exhibit today. His reign of terror ended only when enough people stood up to McCarthy, challenged his authority, stopped placating his whims, and questioned his power. Once McCarthy’s power-grip was broken and his movement was neutralized, so was he, and he died a miserable drunk a few years later.

You don’t fight fearmongerers by pandering to them or catering to their fears. You fight them by neutralizing them and diminishing their will. If McCain is riding on Bush Junior’s coattails, then you make sure that the people see him riding on the BAD parts of those coattails. You remind people of FEMA and Rumsfeld. You remind them of debt and hypocrisy. You remind them of corporate scandals and years of living in a bubble of ignorance. You remind them of a collapsing economy and their inability to do anything about it, just like they did with New Orleans, until the damage was even worse. You remind them of the port scandal and the outsourcing of not just American jobs, but America’s security as well.

And when the Imperium jumps up and says “BOO”, as they are known to do when they are feeling insecure, then you need to do the hardest thing in the world politically… you need to laugh at them. You need to stand up and challenge their authority and question their capability and their sanity.

“These are the people who looked out the window while New Orleans suffered! These are the people who didn’t care when homes were being foreclosed! These are the people that laughed at us when the price of gasoline started to climb higher and higher. And now they want to tell you to be afraid! They couldn’t act when it was clearly needed, and refused to see the dangers that were as clear as day, and now they tell you to be AFRAID?” THAT is what you tell the people! And with their credibility so will fall anyone and anything associated with it… including John McCain’s campaign.

And finally…

Be consistent! Don’t flip-flop. Don’t waffle. Don’t change your story or change your position to suit the situation. You don’t need to re-invent or re-introduce yourself if you continue to be who you really are from day one.

One of the things that separates a true movement from prefabricated hype is the level of sincerity and honesty behind it. Look at the trend of wearing grunge in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. Grunge was a matter of necessity back then. It was an act of SURVIVAL. People didn’t dress up like thrift shop regulars because they wanted to be trendy. They dressed up that way because that was all that they could AFFORD to buy! But as soon as grunge was treated as a fashion statement for high society, and you had fashion designers hyping it, the whole movement died. The fashion was popular because it was HONEST and it wasn’t being sold as some hyped up prefabricated trend.

Likewise, the reason behind Obama’s popularity in the first months of his campaign, and the reason why he was able to outlast against the so-called “sure bet” of Hillary Clinton was that he seemed genuine. He didn’t come off as slick or prefabricated like Bill Clinton was in 1992, and that’s the real secret to him carrying on. Once he begins to act like any other kind of politician is when he will LOSE to a tried-and-true career politician like John McCain.

The ironic part is that John McCain, the so-called “political maverick”, has done so much pandering and so much flip-flopping that he comes off as totally fake, and yet people would STILL vote for him! That’s because he’s BEEN in Washington for so long that he IS a fixture, so that is what people expect of him.

If Obama and his supporters want to BEAT that, then they have to make sure that he doesn’t BECOME that.