Sunday, July 23, 2006
“The tea was held upstairs, past open doors that held the portraits of First Ladies and mementos of previous administrations.”
I wrote the above to appear in a newsletter for the National Federation of Republican Women soon after the tea. I had gotten my invitation to the White House Tea as a Regent for NFRW and because I had donated to No Child Left Behind. The sandwiches were delicious – but subsequent events have persuaded me that to remain loyal to America I need to ask that Laura's husband be impeached. Since it is clear the Republicans are not going to clean their own house I am urging Democrats to act now and remove both President Bush and Vice President Cheney from office.
As a long time Republican, who worked for Barry Goldwater, I have watched with dismay as events play out in the Administration of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. The reasons grow more compelling every day.
It is not that our military are dying in a war, but that the war was sold with lies and that the real reason over 2,500 Americans and God knows now many Iraqis have been killed is to stop the flow of oil to France and Russia. Those countries had just signed an oil deal with Saddam Hussein when the war began.
As events played out it became gut wrenchingly obvious to me that Bush and Cheney had not just overlooked their oaths of office; they had shredded the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, documents that any American should respect. Torture in the name of freedom? Taping Americans in the name of security? Someone has obviously lost their mind or is following an agenda that has nothing to do with their rhetoric.
I understand why Republicans can't take this necessary step; the Republican Party was quietly taken over by the NeoCons who run the Bush Administration, starting a while ago.
In California they marched into the Republican State Convention several years back and just took over, overthrowing leadership that really represented the grassroots. Exerting control happens in many different ways and Rove most probably made sure of that first.
Republicans, the kind of people who believed and lived the ideas of Barry Goldwater, low taxation, local government, and individual rights, have been marginalized throughout the Republican Party. The only people left in positions of authority, for the most part, are either NeoCons or NeoCon sympathizers. Long time organizations like the Republican Assemblies, the John Birch Society, and the newly formed Republican Liberty Caucus despise Bush and understand that we stand on the brink of fascism. They do nothing but wring their hands, unfortunately. Some of that is probably fear; some comes from the Republican Command, “Thou shalt not speak evil of another Republican.” I disagree obviously.
I have always felt that political parties are just tools used to work for an agenda agreed on by those who are active. If we owe loyalty to anything it is to the principles for which America was founded. Today we have confused the word, 'rights,' with 'privileges.' Rights are not a list of specifics, they are the acknowledgment that each of us is born possessed of inherent rights to act, own the property we earn, and to be free in our own persons. That is Jefferson's, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Converting those God given rights to privileges made all of us subject to government when the whole idea was that our freedom existed before any government we adopted as a tool for ordering our human world.
Loyalty to a political party should never be stronger than your loyalty to that original vision of a people coming together to govern themselves, using persuasion and consent. Members of Congress should burn their party membership cards before being sworn. It is as if you felt loyalty to your hammer, a tool, instead of to the family you love who live in the house you built using that tool.
I have been wondering for a long time why Democrats have not taken action. John Conyers has proposed a censure, a good start. Others outside Congress are talking about impeachment. But nothing happens.
Why is the Democratic faction of Congress tip toeing around, pretending that all is well in Congressland?
I have a nasty streak of cynicism so answers did occur to me. I hope I am wrong, but my reason says I am dead on.
The Democratic contingent of Congress spends its time watching the steady roll of fascism through America's Institutions, silent where you would expect outrage, because they are all too aware that if they speak out their own dirty laundry will be dragged out for examination. They watched the appointment of federal judges carefully steered through the process of ratification through the system who had been solicited by the Federalist Society. Founded in 1982 by Republicans and Libertarians that organization had an agenda that includes lofty rhetoric that states, “ that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”
That is what they say. One wonders if they ever read it. This is one of those times when rhetoric is used as cover, I suppose. The actions of the Federalists included placing judges with a political agenda who do as they are told. Clarence Thomas was their shining moment and the destruction of Anita Hill business as usual. Time and several thorough books have determined the truth of those questions.
I think it likely that Democrats serving in Congress cringe at the idea of an investigation into matters they know will not stand the light of day in a court overseen by one of these Federalist graduates. The meaning of 'is' does not even come close to not being able to see the difference between the separation of the branches of government and the monolithic state that confronts our eyes today.
Remember the downcast eyes of Teddy Kennedy during the Clarence Thomas hearings. There is a reason that Democrats are afraid to speak out.
Democrats are vulnerable and they know it. Some of them probably wonder what the NSA picked up in its tapings or what kind of home movies Bush gets from his operatives and if they played starring roles. Not all of them have that kind of worries; I am sure there are good, decent, honest Congressmen on both sides of the isle. But there are enough to make it impossible for any counter move to be successful. Enough is all the NeoCons needed.
If an individual Congressman has dirty laundry he is vulnerable. He can be depended on to be quiet on those issues that really matter and the censure and impeachment matter. If this Congress fails we will lose more than the illusion that the Democratic Party is at least marginally competent as a tool of political action.
I used to believe that there was a vast Left-Wing conspiracy! Ha! A conspiracy implies effective organization.
Impeachment matters; removing this administration is essential if America is to reclaim the vision that summoned it into being, if it is to again be the means by which a people govern themselves.
No president has ever violated the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the other tenets of American thought as thoroughly as the weedeating wonder who occupies the White House today.
Any Democrat who asked to be re-elected to Congress without having signed on to the Censure by Conyers, promised to work for it, and then put his or her name to a bill of impeachment is a traitor to freedom and to America. I am a Republican and I am telling you the truth. I wish those in my own party would step up to the plate, but I do not expect it.
Our lives and the future of our country depend on taking action. Now.
In 1776 a group of men, supported by their wives who would also suffer, pledged, “Their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor,” on a venture that looked impossible. The world expected us to fail; instead we won the Revolution and then lost the battle for freedom with the Great Compromise that ignored the inherent rights of blacks and women.
I suspect that the Founders know that now and hope that we will do better.
The Founders were mostly well off or at least middle class. Life and doing the right thing is about risk and they understood what they could lose. Life is temporary, honor is forever. They were imperfect and so are we. They had the courage to do what had to be done. Do we?
If the Democratic Delegation to Congress is afraid they should remember that the Constitution and Bill of Rights is precisely what they are sworn to protect. If doing that means they risk having their sins exposed to public sight then they should remember that the only two people who matter already know; they themselves and God.
Speak out, act, risk what is only yours on trust anyway. The courage must come, as always, from individuals. For a moment imagine what might be possible. What if those who are controlled by guilty secrets came forward and simply admitted what has been hidden? What if these with guilty consciences offered to make amends for any wrongs they have done?
Confessed to those they had harmed? Asked forgiveness? That would be a powerful statement that would leave them feeling better about themselves and on a firmer footing with everyone around them – and with God. Their fellow members could support and encourage them. Many would find that much would be forgiven them. It would be a revival of American trust, something much needed by all of us today.
America, needs clean, open, politics and the means for ensuring that the government we pay for does not become the government that owns us. Impeachment is necessary; impeachment is appropriate.
I suggest that the Democrats in Congress get off their duffs and get started. Forget your favorite entree in the Congressional Dining room; forget that plush retirement; forget the junkets and perks. Your country needs you NOW. Time is short and should not be wasted.
A Republican woman told you so.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Matthew 7:5 - “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”
New York State is legend for the corruption of its government. Some New Yorkers might prickle at that but they know it is all too true. In some instances in other places corruption is incidental, arising from one individual or a small number of individuals who abuse their power.
But in New York the story is more complex. That corruption has been enabled by the political structure built mostly by those who identify themselves as Democrats. The abuse of power in New York City, through the court system, legislatively, and woven into every other imaginable avenue, is just a part of life there.
It was not always this way; and many good people have worked to change this from all political perspectives, but they have failed. The power that comes with corruption, like a gold ring grabbed from a wooden horse on the carousel, became an accepted part of life in the Big Apple. No amount of clean up by either party has done much to change that.
Corruption is everywhere government touches the lives of the people, placing all of us at risk both by that system and even more gravely by those who are taking advantage of the opportunities such corruption makes possible.
What starts in places like New York; ends at the doors of the White House and Congress. The NeoCons are the most efficient crooks but New York lead the way.
The Garson case in Brooklyn revealed not just one case of judicial corruption but a system of corruption that tied back to the appointment of judges by, surprise, the Democratic Party. Not a NeoCon was in sight – but the reliance of women and children on a dispassionate and judicial oversight for their lives had been converted to a market in pull. The tapping of a judge, carrying on business as usual by extorting cash from a desperate mother, was carried out by one courageous woman, Frieda Haminov. She had been discouraged and threatened by authorities and carried out her expose despite the official hostility. Her acts resulted in one cover up after another; little changed in spite of the overwhelming evidence.
Good people are still at risk when circumstances force them into the court system.
The legislature is no different. Ada L. Smith, Democratic State Senator for Queens, continues her battering and vitriol, showering abuse down on her office staff while she continues to rake in the monetary benefits from her position. No NeoCon handed her the phone she flung at her last victim.
New Yorkers know their system is corrupt. In New York there is nothing that is not for sale from the bench or the legislature. But there is nothing that the people can do to enact change as things stand today. Systemic corruption means that those in control have become part of a system that uses the government to funnel wealth into their own pockets. Greed trumps goodness every time.
Those elected to Federal office from New York came up through that system and to succeed played that system successfully, thus picking up the same nasty habits and destructive values that hopefully will limit Old Ada's career. The most successful of these go on to Washington D. C.
Therefore, those who secured their power in New York now serving mostly themselves in Congress, are not, shall we say, the kind of people who can afford to throw stones at the NeoCons.
Congress is a glass house.
If the Democratic Party is to save itself and offer a solution to the growing Nazism of the NeoCons Democrats with the balls and determination need to take action and the first item on that agenda should be cleaning up their own house. They need to change the Democratic Party. Do they have the courage? The jury is out; Las Vegas might refuse to make odds on that one.
Corruption in one place transfers everywhere.
There is a reason why the Democratic contingent of Congress spends its time watching the steady roll of fascism through America's Institutions, silent where you would expect outrage. Several generations of stealing less and a solid addiction to the benefits of power has made them vulnerable to the charges that would be leveled at them if they dared speak out. Some of them probably wonder what the NSA picked up in its tapings or what kind of home movies Bush gets from his operatives. Not all of them have that kind of worries, but enough to make it impossible for any counter move to be successful. Enough is all the NeoCons need.
If an individual Congressman has dirty laundry he is vulnerable. He can be depended on to be quiet on those issues that really matter. Otherwise he is free to benefit from his position. The NeoCons don't mind a little sharing.
At an elemental level this is not a partisan problem – but the divides of politics have worked well to build that perception.
There is no question that Republicans also need to act; they need to clean up their own party as well. But for them this is far more difficult. None NeoCons lack any control over their political infrastructure, Many of them, now still stuck in denial, are experiencing a deer-in-the-headlights moment. The Democrats, on the other hand, must deal only with the more mundane, garden variety kind of corruption. Sort of homey after watching the NeoCons operate, isn't it?
Are Democrats up to that challenge? Their grass roots, peeling away just like many Republicans, are giving up hope. The courage must come, as always, from individuals. For a moment imagine what might be possible. What if those who are controlled by guilty secrets came forward and simply admitted what has been hidden? What if they offered to make amends for any wrongs they have done? Confessed to those they had harmed? Asked forgiveness? That would be a powerful statement that would leave them feeling better about themselves and on a firmer footing with everyone around them – and with God. Their fellow members could support and encourage them. Many would find that much would be forgiven them. It would be a revival of American trust, something much needed – and not just in New York.
New York, and all of America, needs Clean, Open, Politics and the means for ensuring that the government we pay for does not become the government that owns us.
Clean, open, politics is not rocket science. In fact, it need not be difficult. During the last two hundred years Americans have created all of the tools needed to accomplish that goal. Those tools are the accountability and enforceability we expect from insurance agents, dog walkers, house cleaners, brokers and other professionals. We trust those elected to legislatures and courts with things far more valuable than entrusted to any house cleaner. Why do we fail to ensure they are bonded? When elected officials steal, either directly or by holding a garage sale on our rights as Americans, there must be accountability.
We, not they, have the rights recognized by the Declaration of Independence. We, not they, are sovereign.
A bond should cover the cost of removing them from office by recall or other ethically appropriate method. If you lie you leave should be a basic assumption of accepting political office, and not just the next term, immediately. Tom Delay should not only be gone he should be bankrupted by liability and now working at MacDonald's.
It is time for installing Accountability 101 in government. While the Democratic Party starts looking for the rags and cleaner for that housecleaning job on itself Americans need to dig in and ensure the job gets done in every possible way. Coming clean is one way, the other is coming together. We must close the political divides between right and left, keeping in mind that we are one people.
Some of us are already working on that.
Coalition for Clean, Open, Politics, a growing group of fed up Americans is forming, determined to return control to the people by exacting accountability for those in government. Promises made must be promises kept. To do that we need to extract enforceable promises from hopeful candidates and we need to bond them, ensuring the means for removal are available.
When real control is again vested directly in the people the moral hazard of government as it is today will be less of a temptation to the ethically challenged, and that will be a good thing.
Co-chairs, Mike Hersh Mikehersh@mikehersh.com, Dem.; Melinda Pillsbury-Foster firstname.lastname@example.org, Rep.; Robert Hughes, email@example.com, Rep.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
On Friday morning, in the Superior Court of Manhattan, John Fund will face the consequences for his own actions. John Fund lied, slandered, libeled, and used his power in concerted attempts to destroy those who refused to be silenced. He is practiced in the skills of deception having studied under a master of that political art form, Karl Rove.
Our trust in justice does not die all at once, it seeps out through hundreds and thousands of small wounds over a long time.
The process of Justice in America has not been swift; it has been four long years. It is not certain; Robert Morganthau refused to prosecute the criminal case without explanation.
But in this case the victim has finally managed to have her day in
John Fund is being sued for battery, theft, and other causes; not the kind of action one generally thinks of politically relevant.
The victim of his violence and lies is Morgan Pillsbury Gell. Morgan, now married, is near term with her second child.
Traveling to New York for the trial was not easy for her – but she was determined. Mrs. Gell went on with her life through a battery of slanders and libels extruded by John Fund and his friends. This moment of hope may be short-lived. No one in the media much cares; no one seems to see how this case highlights the problems we confront with the whole of politics in America today.
She is just another battered woman. This is not important. Or is it?
Civilized people need to know there will be justice for all.
Justice is something we often misunderstand. It is not about vengeance, it is about restoring balance, about affirming the sense that we can trust the world to be reasonable, if not always kind.
Jesus said that none of us are asked to carry burdens that are too heavy for us to bear; a system of justice should ensure that we carry only the burdens we have created and not the burdens imposed by others by deceit, coercion, and violence. Four years is a long time to wait.
Justice is important to us as individuals and to America as the nation of which each of us is a part. It is something for which we hunger today because it has never been harder to come by.
On Tuesday, John Fund refused to participate in arbitration; a few minutes later he, the attorneys, his victim, and the judge were seated in a courtroom and potential jurors were filling out the forms that will help determine if they will be empaneled to hear the case. Wednesday empaneling was finished; the trial started.
John did not think he should have to be bothered with a trial. After all, he is routinely briefed by the White House. Important people cannot be held accountable -- at least that is what Fund believes, and he has his reasons for holding such a belief. This is what our present administration has taught him by their own behavior.
For Important People there is no accountability.John thinks he cannot be held accountable for his lies because he an essential cog in the slick machine of the Bush Administration and the Neoconservative movement. He is, after all, briefed by the White House.
Important people are different; we should all see that. Important people hold a little card that says, “FREE LIE,” to be used at will as often as necessary. They are printed on a special press by Karl Rove and handed out to all the Important People.
Fund has seen George W. Bush evade responsibility for far larger lies with bluster. He has seen Karl Rove evade facing justice for an arguable act of treason with a smirk and a gloat. So John has reason for his beliefs. Our political system affirms his right to lie as necessary so that he can continue to work as a political operative for this administration.
“Important people, ” what we used to think of as “public servants,” view themselves differently today. Not for them a simple transparent honesty, not on the national level and not on the local level in New York, the same state that has ignored the violence done by State Senator Ada L. Smith. Smith has thus far evaded justice on the charges she has battered a growing number of her office staff over the last several years, the last one just a few weeks ago. This Administration may have fine-tuned lying and evasion to a science but they are not the ones who wrote the book.
The deceptive practices are the same in every case. Lie, use larger lies, stifle the truth through threats, financial pressure; Destroy reputations, kill trust. As long as you win it does not matter. The core players wrote the rule book and all are briefed by someone.
John has been briefed since before George W. Bush was 'elected' president in 2000. He was being briefed when he put out the rumor that John McCain had a black love child, the rumor that killed the McCain candidacy in South Carolina. When John McCain burst into the Wall Street Journal to exact some retribution, John hid under his desk. Fund does not like physical encounters with people who are larger or stronger than himself. Morgan is just over five feet tall. John is around six feet three.
Fund's whole ego and being is tied up in being an Important Person, briefed by the White House. He worked hard to get where he is today.
John's first article sold for $3,000.00 to the Reader's Digest around 1982. He used the anguished confession he received from a woman who was working at the Reagan White House to buy his ticket to the East Coast. She thought he was her friend. In Washington D. C. he began working for Rowland Evans and Robert Novak; today Novak remains his friend and mentor. That article destroyed the woman's career; Fund said that what she had told him was just the truth; he had done nothing for which he needed to apologize.
For a long time John's favorite saying was, “The truth will set you free.” Fund does not say that anymore. That FREE LIE card changes your outlook.
In the beginning John had other ways of evading accountability. Then he just broke down in tears and cried, eliciting sympathy. This was his reaction when Eric Garris confronted him on the lie he had run successfully for school board in Sacramento. In fact, he had never been a candidate and had reported someone else's race as his own. Found out, he cried and begged Garris to conceal the truth. Garris did that until just a few months ago, an act he now regrets.
John went on to a rich career at the Wall Street Journal and, after the sordid details of his affair with Morgan became public, OpinionJournal.com. He never gave Eric Garris another thought and certainly never helped him. Fund was going to be Important.
Being a political operative means that lying, planting false information, and such are just part of your routine work. That is work that came very naturally to John Fund.
Americans have seen the same deceptive practices used in the Valerie Plame case, with the claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, the claim that took us into a war that has killed over 2,500 Americans, uncounted Iraqis, and is costing trillions of dollars that flow night and day into the corporate coffers of Halliburton through no bid, cost plus contracts. Nice work if you can get it.
The same deceptive practices that dragged us into war were used in a case of domestic violence in New York City to bail out a man whose start up the ladder of 'success' came at the cost of another person's career. That and the tears have really paid off for John. He still cries as necessary.
Don't expect to see much about the Fund – Pillsbury Trial in the mainstream media. Notice who pays those media salaries. America's media has slowly over the last decade been acquired by the same corporate interests who funded the Bush campaigns. The American media is, in fact, a significant segment of the Bush Core Constituency.
Journalists may want to cover it but doing so could cost them their jobs.
So In New York, the city that witnessed the trial of John Peter Zenger in 1735 and so gave us the First Amendment, the issues of honesty by those entrusted with power is yet again on point. Honesty, integrity and simple justice are things all of us ordinary, unimportant, people grow hungrier for every single day. We know we are unimportant, we are not briefed by the White House.
When will Americans be ready to demand the honesty and justice for which we pay so dearly? When will New York weep for the honor and courage lost to the past?
I think that day is coming sooner than John Fund, Karl Rove, or George Bush realizes.
John was right about one thing. If you know the truth it will set you free.
Get off the Grids; Organize Locally; Build Coalition – and remember that honesty matters, Jesus, an person not briefed by any White House, said so.