Greg Palast is Dr. Feelgood. After all the blather, bazzfazz and claptrap about the inaugural comes some writing to lift one's spirits. Wish I said that.
OAF OF OFFICE
Thursday, January 20, 2005
by Greg Palast
Watching John Kerry lip-synch the oath of office, I couldn't help wondering, 'what if.'
Here on stage in Washington was the winner-class warmed and protected by cashmere and tax cuts against the strange, nipple-chilling cold. Hell had frozen over.
Our President said, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation." Well, no, it isn't.
Our President said, "We will widen retirement savings and health insurance." No, he won't.
Our President said, "America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains." Yes, he will.
Our President said, "And our country must abandon all the habits of racism." Oh, sure.
He doesn't believe a single word he's saying. And all over America, everyone knows he's lying and America is truly relieved.
America doesn't want to give up the habit of racism. Karl Rove doesn't. Jeb Bush doesn't. If not for challenging hundreds of thousands of voters in Black precincts of Ohio and other swing states, if not for purging thousands more from voter rolls for the crime of voting while Black, you wouldn't be president now, would you, Mr. President?
You won't "pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains," unless they are chained by your buck-buddies in Saudi Arabia.
You'll "support democratic movements" so long as the citizens of Venezuela don't get carried away and decide that democracy means they can choose a leader you don't like.
And you'll "widen Social Security and health insurance"? Who are you kidding? I just got a doctor bill for $5,200 … should I send it to you at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
You said, "You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs." What you meant was, "Courage is fragile and real evil triumphs." Indeed your entire campaign was about American cowardice: "they" are coming to get us. Americans, scared for their lives, soiled their underpants and waddled to the polls crying, "Georgie, save us!"
Franklin Roosevelt said in his inaugural, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But he didn't have Dick Cheney creating from his bunker a government which is little more than a Wal-Mart of Fear: midnight snatchings of citizens for uncharged crimes, wars to hunt for imaginary weapons aimed at Los Angeles, DNA data banks of kids and grandmas, the Chicken Little sky-is-falling social security spook-show, and shoe-searches in airports. Fear is your only product.
In another world, in which all votes are counted, J.F. Kerry would have gathered most of those arcane chits called "electoral votes" and would have taken that oath today.
But, dear Reader, there's one cold statistic Kerry voters must face. The fact that Republicans monkeyed with the votes in swing states doesn't wash away that big red stain: 59 million Americans marched to the polls and voted for George W. Bush.
If bin Laden doesn't scare you, THAT should.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Join them. Fight this insanity.
Abstinence-Only: Short on Facts, Long on Fancy
Students enrolled in federally-funded abstinence-only sex education programs are misinformed about science, deprived of vital health information, and exposed to gender stereotypes and religious dogma, according to a Congressional study commissioned by California Representative Henry A. Waxman. Eleven of the thirteen most commonly taught programs are found to be severely flawed, yet the federal government has doubled funding over the past four years. $170 million has been appropriated for fiscal year 2005 to teach that abstinence-until-marriage is the expected standard of behavior and the only way to avoid pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, and mental and psychological harm.
This federal program institutionalizes censorship in the nation's schools. Information inconsistent with the "abstinence-only" message is excluded. As a result, curricula omit or distort information about contraceptives, same sex relationships and abortion, and condoms are mentioned only to say they fail. According to the report, the most popular programs expose millions of young people to misinformation, such as:
One thing that is not excluded from abstinence-only programs is religion. One course teaches that life begins at fertilization, and another that "a 43-day-old fetus is a thinking person." For the full report, see Rep. Waxman's Website: www.house.gov/waxman. In Louisiana, the ACLU has renewed its claims charging the state with religious indoctrination in a taxpayer-funded program that advocates abstinence-only to avoid pregnancy and STDs and "to please God." The ACLU claims the program violates a court settlement reached in 2002 over a similar religion-based program that used taxpayer funds to purchase Bibles and religious tapes. NCAC launched its Sex and Censorship Campaign in 1999, condemning abstinence-only programs as government censorship, as an affront to the principle of church-state separation, and as ineffective and unnecessary. 45 national groups joined in a statement to members of Congress to object to government imposition of ideological views as a mask for education (see Censorship News 80).
One thing that is not excluded from abstinence-only programs is religion. One course teaches that life begins at fertilization, and another that "a 43-day-old fetus is a thinking person."
For the full report, see Rep. Waxman's Website: www.house.gov/waxman.
In Louisiana, the ACLU has renewed its claims charging the state with religious indoctrination in a taxpayer-funded program that advocates abstinence-only to avoid pregnancy and STDs and "to please God." The ACLU claims the program violates a court settlement reached in 2002 over a similar religion-based program that used taxpayer funds to purchase Bibles and religious tapes.
NCAC launched its Sex and Censorship Campaign in 1999, condemning abstinence-only programs as government censorship, as an affront to the principle of church-state separation, and as ineffective and unnecessary. 45 national groups joined in a statement to members of Congress to object to government imposition of ideological views as a mask for education (see Censorship News 80).
Next time Boxer's campaign calls me for a donation, I'm there.
Anyway, I refer to the confirmation hearings of world class liar Condoleeza Rice. She took umbrage when Boxer confronted her with her own contradictory statements (we call them lies in the real world), asked Boxer not to impugn her (Rice's) integrity.
Too late. None left to impugn.
Worth noting, too, her unwillingness to admit any mistakes. As with other members of the neocon cabal, admitting mistakes is tantamount to child molesting. It's simply not done. Gods don't make mistakes. Especially those that see mandates the way some people see The Blessed Virgin in water stains on a dirty stucco wall in Tiajuana.
Here's a recap from the American Progress Action Fund:
Demur, Defer, Deter
In nearly ten hours of testimony yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bush Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice faced "pointed questions about her role in shaping U.S. policies over the past four years," especially America's strategy in Iraq and treatment of prisoners there and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But "throughout the long day, Rice said little that so much as suggested a pending departure from any of the Bush administration's present policies, toward Iraq or any other issue." Instead, on issues from whether the U.S. would stay the course in Iraq, to her feelings about torture, Rice substituted doubletalk and obfuscation for straight answers, refusing to take responsibility for any of the "serial disasters" that characterized President Bush's first-term foreign policy.
STILL NO PLAN: Refusing "to set any timetable for the withdrawal of American troops," Rice made it painfully clear that the Bush administration has no long term strategy for Iraq. Citing concern among Iraqi and American officials that the U.S. plans to cut and run in Iraq, Sen. Biden (D-DE) asked Rice if there was any "reasonable possibility that the United States would withdraw the bulk of its forces before the end of 2005." Rice replied, "I can't judge that," adding lamely, "I will say that we're going to try to help the Iraqis get this done." As Slate's Fred Kaplan pointed out, "This wasn't even a 'non-denial denial.' It wasn't a denial. [Rice] declined to assure the Iraqis or anyone else that the United States is firmly committed…The question that Biden said everyone is asking in Iraq—are we staying, or are we plotting to cut and run?—remains, remarkably, unanswered."
THE TRAINING GAME: On Tuesday, Rice once again exaggerated the progress of programs to train Iraqi soldiers. As recently as last September, Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld promised there would be 145,000 Iraqis "sufficiently trained and equipped" by the time of the elections. On Tuesday, Rice estimated the number was "somewhere over 120,000." Biden, who was recently in Iraq, sharply contradicted her: "I think you'll find, if you speak to the folks on the ground, they don't think there's more than 4,000 actually trained Iraqi forces." According to figures released last week, about 53,000 police officers, 40,000 national guard members and 4,000 soldiers are 'trained and on hand.'" But "Mass defections of Iraqi troops are still frequent," with some guard brigades recording losses of up to 50 percent of their personnel. Committee Chairman Dick Lugar (R-IN) appealed to Rice to "come up with 'some measurement' to gauge progress on the issue."
RICE'S TORTURED RESPONSE: In one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing, Rice declined to make a clear statement against the use of torture. Citing instances of forced nudity and simulated drowning as interrogation techniques, Sen. Dodd (D-CT) asked Rice, "What are your views on that? Is that torture, in your view, or not?" Rice "declined to characterize" the abusive methods, saying such determinations were made by the Justice Department and that it wouldn't be "appropriate" for her to comment. "It's a disappointing answer," Dodd retorted, "with the world watching, when a simple question is raised about techniques that I think most people would conclude in this country are torture, it's important at a moment like that that you can speak clearly and directly."
RICE WANTS LIES RESPECTED: Rice refused to take responsibility for her misstatements in the run-up to the war in Iraq. On 9/9/02, Rice said, "We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon." And on 9/7/03, Rice said, "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Later, after weapons inspector David Kay had determined Iraq's nuclear weapons programs were retired in 1991, Rice told PBS that "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute…Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." Rice did not admit any inconsistency in those statements, instead lashing out at Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at her hearing for "impugning my integrity." But Rice impugned her own integrity: click here for more than fifty Rice misstatements about 9/11 and the war in Iraq during her four year tenure as national security advisor.
CLUELESS IN IRAN: According to an article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, President Bush's "next strategic target" is Iran, where U.S. forces have for months been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions in preparation for possible air strikes. Questioned about the article by John Kerry (D-MA), Rice said it was "inaccurate." Kerry asked, "About Iran?" Rice replied, "It is inaccurate." This exchange was repeated a few times. "Finally, Rice said that hitting Iran with airstrikes was not U.S. policy. Kerry let it go. But it's worth pointing out that Hersh didn't claim it was policy, only that the top civilians in the Pentagon were pushing for it to be policy." Otherwise, Rice "broke no new ground in how the administration plans to deal with the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran."
Sunday, January 16, 2005
invariable citing it as the most important quality they seek in a
relationship. Indeed, to be able to trust fully is the single most
important criterion for a lasting, deeply satisfying relationship."
"Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship we have - an unspoken
assumption about how we will behave toward, as well as be treated by
others. And because it is unspoken, we assume everyone else operates
from the same reference point that we do. We expect those we trust
to be faithful, loyal and honest. With trust comes respect, personal
safety and intimacy. When someone deceives us, when they hide parts
of themselves or their actions from us, when they tell us only what
they think we want to hear, or when they put their needs above ours,
they demolish our dignity and shatter our self-esteem. The fallout
from broken trust remains astonishingly the same: the victims are left
with a gut-wrenching emptiness and hurt. They don't feel safe any
longer - emotionally, physically, spiritually, sometimes even
financially. Many victims discover that, while they can no longer
count on those who betrayed them, neither can they trust themselves.
Their judgment is now faulty, their lives paralyzed. Whey they fail
to acknowledge is that their own goodness and intelligence cannot help
them anticipate, or protect them from, the malice and dishonesty of
1) Start Slowly...Taper Off.
2) Everything You Know Is Wrong.
3) No Matter Where You Go, There You Are.
3a) But there's no there there.--G. Stein
4) So Near, And Yet...So What?
4a) It's a one-shot deal--no second chances.--William Burroughs
5) Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money.
6)Paranoia is just having all the facts.--William Burroughs, again
6a) Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
7) If it ain't broke--break it.
8) If work were such a splendid thing, the rich
would have kept more of it for themselves.
9) “Things are more like they are now
than they ever were before.” --Ike
10)The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.
11) I am not sincere, even when I say I am not.
(Alternate: You’ve no idea what a poor opinion I have of myself, and how little I deserve it.)
*Remember, this life is a test. This is not an actual life. This is only a test. If this had been an actual life, you would have been given further instructions on where to go and what to do.
And, remember the words of the prophet:
"I came to a fork in the road, and I took it."
There are so many powerful images from our country's long struggle for racial and economic equality. Every history book has the same black and white pictures -- from places like Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
So, as we prepare to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, I'd like to share some equally powerful images of Election Day, 2004 -- from places like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
In honor of Dr. King and the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, please sign your name to our demand for electoral reform nationwide.
Join the fight. Send these images to everyone you know.
We're just beginning to understand the impact of the aggressive campaign of misinformation, repression and intimidation that was unleashed by corrupt Republican officials and partisans in 2004. Here are just a few examples (View the orginials by clicking here ):
In Lake County, Ohio, a fake letter appearing to come from the Lake County Board of Elections was sent to newly registered voters saying that registrations gathered by progressive organizations (including ACT) are illegal and those voters would not be able to vote.
The week before the election, flyers were circulated in Milwaukee under the heading "Milwaukee Black Voters League" with some "warnings for election time" including that anyone convicted of any offense, however minor, is ineligible to vote; that any family member having been convicted of anything would disqualify a voter; and that any violation of these warnings would result in ten years in prison and a voter's children being taken away.
A flyer designed to look like an official announcement from McCandless Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, was designed to misinform voters on a partisan basis. The flyer claimed that "Due to the immense voter turnout that is expected on Tuesday, November 2 the state of Pennsylvania has requested an extended voting period" encouraging people to vote on November 3rd.
So, with the dust settling on the 2004 elections, a much longer fight must continue on the streets and in the precincts where too many voices went unheard.
This petition and the strength of ACT's ongoing field campaign will oppose and defeat any corrupt federal, state, and local official who blocks common sense efforts to ensure fairer voting in future elections. Demand change today. Learn more here.
We will not win by sending emails and airing television commercials. We will only win by building strong organizations on the ground from coast-to-coast. This is what ACT is doing in 2005.
ACT TOWN HALL MEETINGS PLANNED
Over the coming weeks, ACT staff and volunteers will be organizing town hall meetings to review the elections of 2004 and discuss our plans for the future. This is your chance to help shape ACT's future and build the volunteer organization needed to win in 2005 and beyond.
Currently, we are making plans for meetings in the following cities.
Columbus, OH - TBDLos Angeles, CA - January 22
Milwaukee, WI - TBD
New York, NY - January 18 (*Capacity reached. More events soon.)
Philadelphia, PA - TBD
Phoenix, AZ - TBD
St. Louis, MO - TBD
More cities to be announced soon!
If you are involved with a volunteer organization in another city that worked with ACT in 2004 or looking to work with us in the future, please let us know how we can support your continued efforts in 2005. Email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Steve RosenthalCEOAmerica Coming Together
PS. From National Journal's Charlie Cook, printed on January 11, 2005, on what went right in 2004:
"Democrats, chiefly through America Coming Together, mounted what was not only the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation in the party's history, but it was probably the best field work by a factor of at least 10. Merging the latest in technology with old-fashioned shoe leather, Democrats not only met, but surpassed, their vote total targets in key states such as Ohio and Florida. With voter turnout unexpectedly climbing from 105 million in 2000 to 119 million in 2004 and a parallel effort by the GOP that took them to startling heights of organization as well, the Democratic GOTV operation was not quite good enough to win, but it was awfully close."
2. Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.
4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, 'Code 3 in housewares..... and see what happens.
5. Go the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M's on lay away.
6. Move a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.
7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you'll invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.
8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'
9. Look right into the security camera; use it as a mirror, and pick your nose.
10. While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk if he knows where the anti- depressants are.
11. Dart around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.
12. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna look" using different size funnels.
13. Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, say "! PICK ME!" "PICK ME!"
14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"
15 Go into a fitting room and shut the door and wait a while; and, then, yell, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"
Theodore Roosevelt, 1918
"The truth is found when men are free to pursue it."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." George Orwell, 1945
"Any time we deny any citizen the full exercise of his constitutional rights, we are weakening our own claim to them."
Dwight David Eisenhower, 1963
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant."
Robert F. Kennedy, 1964
"Go fuck yourself."
Dick Cheney, 2004
Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women, and finally the children -- last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
Houses had thatched roofs (thick straw piled high), with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house, which posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a "thresh hold."
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat."
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake."
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out 5 of coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I've certainly been keeping up with the news, and the daily outrages of this administration and it's reactionary impact on the socio-cultural American gestalt continue unabashed, unaplogetic and unabated. The attacks on our 200 year old yet fledgling democacy have been executed with ever more arrogance from Capital Hill as well as the White House--no surprise there, of course. They do believe they have a mandate, to go along with all the power they've usurped or stolen over the last 30 years. Never ones to let facts stand in the way of a good opinion, they have upped the pace and will continue to dismantle 60 years of progressive social advancement on every front as fast as their two right feet can carry them. It's just too enervating. I need a nap and a great big bag of Valium.
And except for Ted Kennedy's urging today for the party to return to its progressive roots and Barbara Boxer's courageous stand against certifying the Ohio electoral vote, pretty much the rest of the Democrats seem to be stuck in some wimp timebandits wormhole of centrism. Even Howard Dean, though never a flaming prog regardless of reputation, acknowledged acceptance of anti-choice leadership on his side of the aisle. Something about a big tent. Familiar phrase, that. It was nauseating when the neocons used it pre-convention, but somehow the Democratic party trying to win a broader appeal by courting anti-choice ignocrats is, well, unseemly. And, may I say, yucky. Remember moderate or liberal Republicans? Now pretty much extinct, their legacy remains in the DLC. Ol' Ralphie Boy was right. He was an asshole and megalomaniac, of course, but it's hard to argue with his main premises--except that one about no difference between Bush and Gore, oh that was really dumb.
So I've been quiescently frozen of late, but like one of those succulent orange treats on a stick away from its freon nest, I'm melting too.
So fie on the valium, and bring on the crank. It's time to get this horse back in the race. I'm going to cram in as many angry sarcastic diatribes as ever, along with every cliche ever written and some of the most godawful puns my evershrinking frontal lobes can pustulate--er, postulate
It's my job, after all. If I have to have one.