Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Civility is for the civil, not for criminals: No question is out of line for Dick Cheney

Babies are a good thing; they are the hope of the world, the perpetuation of the human adventure; the soul healing delight that transforms girls into mothers.

And while we cannot fault Dick and Lynn Cheney for their expressed delighted that their daughter is about to give birth to a child their own movement would characterize as an abomination the recent exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Dick Cheney does point to the contradictory practices and standards of those we know as NeoCons. Their actions send a message about their real agenda; that is what has been operating under the cover of rhetoric since Dick Cheney was a high school cheerleader, courting his far more political girl friend, Lyn.

Why should Blitzer have allowed Dick Cheney to determine what questions Cheney, a public employee, should have to answer? Cheney and Bush are not our employers, nor does their behavior give them a right to deference.

The assertion that Cheney or Bush or any of those who we know as NeoCons should be accorded respect continues a mistake Americans have been making for a long time. It is time to change that. According respect to individuals who occupy positions of power through deceit empowers deceitful behavior. Instead of respect they should be shunned. The mistake of according such deference itself is a continuation of the mistake we made in extending the trappings of 'aristocracy' to such as Bush.

Bush is no Aristocrat; he is the offspring of generations that made their living from sucking the tit of government.

America is a nation established to refute the idea of elitism; the Revolution was in large part capitalized by people who rejected the idea of a 'natural aristocracy' or one established through the acquisition of wealth when that wealth was not viewed through a lens that judged how it was accumulated. We are not British. America's mission statement affirms the absolute ideal of equality.

Americans do not bow or curtsy to kings. Each of us is in our own right sovereign, holding that standing not by government but as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in America's Mission Statement, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —“

Americans should accord respect only to those whose actions affirm accomplishment by means that extend the cultural capital of cooperation through doing the right thing. No Robber Baron deserves our respect; no PR agents for Robber Barons do either.

The slow, steady displacement of respect accorded to those who accomplished financial well being and social justice through going right, replaced with just how high the dollar signs are piled, has taken its toll of American culture. Today, behavior that would make barnyard animals blush is excused in celebrities of all kinds. Today, wealthy Mafiosi are accorded respect; money in large amounts is all that matters. Bill Gates is courted to donate to charities although most of us know that his wealth came from the worst kind of predatory behavior, carried out by skirting the law and ignoring simple decency.

The same pattern played out in the aftermath of those earlier generations of Robber Barons. Taking money and favors from the Federal government, these opportunists risked not their own wealth but the wealth entrusted to government by the people. The tendency to see wealth entrusted to government as up for grabs has been going on for a long time. The Big Four, and their Eastern cronies, including Rockefeller, were despised by people whose own values reflected a belief that wealth earned by deceit, corruption, and violence carried with it no social credit. When met with social ostracism they bought their way in. That was not their mistake, it was the mistake of those who let it happen. That the names of Stanford, Doheney, Mulholland, Carnegie, and others carry a patina of aristocracy is a mistake that has proven to be more expensive than we could have imagined.

Today both Left and Right in America cozy up to those holding ill-gotten gains, in obvious hopes that the ooze of stolen money will rub off on them. It is a sad sight and continues the deterioration of real American values.

Cheney's wealth is the accumulation of money 'earned' through carrying out the agenda of large corporations, whose income stream depends of limiting the market choices of Americans, keeping them on the grid of dependency. The correct way to treat him is to turn your back and ignore his presence. Treating him with deference is itself despicable and offensive. Cheney is an employee of the American people. He deserves no more respect than an auto mechanic who does phony repairs on your car. In justice, the auto mechanic is less toxic and does not usually expect us to bow or curtsy.

This Cheney grandchild is being born within a lesbian relationship and outside of marriage. Personally, I would not judge mother or child. It is Mary Cheney's life and choice. But Lynn Cheney raised her children in a home environment where she wrote about lesbian sexual behavior while emoting the rhetoric of living a very different life. This positioning profited Cheney and his fellow NeoCons to the tune of billions, if not trillions of unearned dollars. Those dollars were not created, they were stolen from real people, many of who will die as a result.

Mary Cheney's baby will live a life of comfort and privilege while Iraqi children die horribly, their deaths an adjunct to the lies told by this baby's grandfather.

"BAGHDAD, 29 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - The Iraqi government, the United Nations and NGOs have condemned an attack against a girls’ school in Baghdad that left five students dead and more than 20 injured on Sunday. Parents, students and teachers were left horror-struck after the incident."

An eleven year old boy in Baghdad would doubtless have something to say to Dick Cheney about his life.

“BAGHDAD, 29 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - "I’m 11 years old and an only son. I’m a pupil at Mansour Primary School in Baghdad. Lately, I have been feeling very lonely in my class. This week, I was the only student in class because all my classmates didn’t come to school for various reasons.

“Since last September, three of my classmates have been kidnapped and two have been killed. One was murdered with his family at home and the other was a victim of a bomb explosion a month ago.”

This is one of the things Cheney and Bush have bought with the money stolen from Americans.

The Cheney baby is not the issue; long life and health to the unborn child, no matter what its gender and despite the deceitful and disgraceful behavior of its grandparents.

The only mistake Blitzer made was to accord Dick Cheney a respect he does not deserve. Americans need to examine how wealth is accumulated; that is what matters. It is past time for Americans to reassess and take action.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The State of the Union, Precarious: What matters and what doesn't.

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(A little bird in Karl Rove's Office might have heard this)

Mr. President, have you read over the speech? (pause) I know. It doesn't matter if Congress believes it. (pause) Of course the public will swallow it. (pause) Your friends will understand that you have to say you support alternative energy. Anyway, you already have the donations in for the Library. (pause) Health care is an issue, try to read those briefing papers. (pause) I do think it is a nice piece of work, yeah, I like the new typeface. Just make sure you don't say her name that way Tuesday night. (pause) Keep working at it. If you find any other words you don't understand just call back.

Tuesday night a man got up and gave a speech. The focus of the world was on every word he uttered even though they knew what he was going to say. Today a rally is taking place in Arkansas. One event matters, the other does not in the long run.

Wording of the Equal Rights Amendment
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Today all of the Constitutional officers for the State of Arkansas, mostly in office for the first time, attended a rally held at the State Capitol along with two hundred enthusiastic supporters for the ERA. Mike Beebe, the new governor, stepped up to the podium to announce his support of a measure that, pro and con, was one of the dividing points in the gubernatorial election last November, according to Zack Wright, Communications Coordinator for the Governor. Wright added that Beebe's position is that ratification is long overdue.

A few months ago the widower and children of Marjorie Rudolph called Lindsley Smith, Representative for the 92nd District of Arkansas, at her office and put into her hands the ERA bracelet their wife and mother had cherished since 1972. Marjorie, they said, had always hoped the ERA would be ratified. They asked Ms. Smith if she would accept the bracelet since she had introduced the ERA for ratification in their home state of Arkansas. Ms. Smith accepted; she told them she would be wearing the bracelet when she dropped the bill in the box and when it is passed. Ms. Smith expects this will happen very soon, perhaps in just a matter of days.

After the rally Ms Smith said, “It was wonderful; people were crowded into the Rotunda and hallways. I knew that we were taking a stand; doing the right thing – acting on principle. Knowing that was happening here, in Arkansas, made me proud.”

America's women have waited since July 1788. When the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to those assembled in July of 1776 it said, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In this way the mission statement for America was established. All are equal; the rights exercised come not from government, but from God. Women believed and labored mightily in the cause of freedom, as they would in all the wars that followed.

Women poured their lives into activism. Generations of women have died waiting to know that their rights were affirmed under the Constitution. As women talk today they share the stories of mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers, who fought for their freedom and died knowing they had failed. It is a sad heritage for a country founded on the idea of individual freedom.

In 2000, 212 years after the Constitution was ratified and women were excluded as people, a retired executive, Dr. Jennifer Macleod, gave a presentation to a group of Girl Scouts on the Equal Rights Amendment. The excited girls asked if Dr. Macleod could help them do a project on the ERA. The Doctor, an expert in survey research, prepared a simple poll and showed the girls how to conduct it. Later, Macleod would admit that she expected that the poll would reflect mixed opinions to the idea of equality for women. She was wrong.

There were three questions. Jennifer expected the Girl Scouts, polling their classmates, teachers, and parents, to find a range of opinions on equality for women. Instead, they found close to unanimous support for the idea that all of us are born possessed of inherent rights, as recognized in the Declaration of Independence. Dumbfounded, Jennifer Macleod arranged for a national survey professionally conducted in July 2001, among American adults all across the country. The findings? 96% answered "yes" to the question, "In your opinion, should male and female citizens of the United States have equal rights?"; 88% answered "yes" to the question, "In your opinion, should the Constitution make it clear that male and female citizens are supposed to have equal rights?"; and, demonstrating a public lack of knowledge, 72% mistakenly answered "yes" to the question, "As far as you know, does the Constitution of the United States make it clear that male and female citizens are supposed to have equal rights?" The results were similar for both men and women, and in all age groups, educational levels, regions of the country, racial categories, and household composition. The results were the same. While the legislatures of 15 states had refused to ratify the ERA Americans had done so in their hearts and minds.

In this way a new wave of activism for ratification began, erasing the sense of hopelessness left in the wake of the failure of the 70s. In Arkansas today women wept tears of joy. At this moment Representative Smith says that the measure has 67 co-sponsors in the House, including the Speaker, Benny C. Petrus.

When the newly passed ERA was sent to the states from Congress in 1972 everyone believed that it would be ratified by the required 38 states quickly but instead it became a political football linked to issues that have nothing to do with simple equality. Women like Phyllis Schlafly have made careers of opposing the equality that was promised to all Americans in 1776. The final blow to the effort came when Ronald Reagan took the ERA out of the Republican Platform, despite the pleas of scores of Republican Women, including his own daughter, Maureen. For women, the promise of equality receded into the distance.

Instead women were forced to rely on a series of laws that assert 'fairness', many passed on the state level. Such laws can be rescinded by simple legislation.

Today women still hang their trust that their rights are protected by privileges conferred by legislators . Without the clear and specific backing of the federal Constitution all laws improving women's rights and opportunities can be overturned. For women in America freedom is provisional. If you ever doubted the need for ratification the crew just booted from Congress should have demonstrated to you just how fragile these rights can be. Consider the present make up of the Supreme Court; Consider the moral fiber demonstrated by an Administration that rescinded the 4th Amendment and used torture and deceit. Simple justice long overdue is also desperately needed. Securing it need not be difficult.

Three State Strategy

The Constitution, in setting forth how amendments can be made, said NOTHING about any time limits on ratification by the states -- although, as was the case for several amendments, a time limit can if desired be included in the body of a proposed amendment. The 1972 Congress, in passing the ERA -- which, fully intentionally, contains no mention of any time limit -- chose to attach a 7-year ratification time limit separate from the amendment itself. Then, when the 1978 Congress extended the time limit by 3 years, that set the precedent such that any Congress can legitimately vote to change such a time limit.

How could equality ever fail to be relevant? In an era when women are serving in the military in roles that expose them to combat, the arguments that they are frail and must be protected fail to persuade Americans. It was not women's weaknesses that moved men to deny them their inherent rights, it was the habit of control.

In addition to Arkansas, vigorous ratification drives are well underway in Illinois (which came very close to ratification in 2004), Florida and Missouri, while many of the other not-yet-ratified states, including Arizona, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, and Georgia are building support for their own ratification drives. Perhaps the legislators in three of these states now understand just how important our rights are. Now that we have seen a Congress and President commit the treason of negating the 4th Amendment the time to be patient is over. Now we can demand action from Democrats and the Republicans who are now distancing themselves from the corrupt Bush Administration.

The states that are not yet ratified are:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

By the time you read this Arkansas may proudly be the 36th State to ratify.

Two events took place this week. One man talked; a coalition of women and men, united in defense of real freedom, took action. It is doing the right thing that matters, no matter how long it takes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Nix On Bush - Republicans must take back their Party

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The time has come in the Bush Administration when George W. has begun to think about his legacy. Murmurs of that have begun to percolate out through various avenues; the latest Surge of rhetoric from the White House was doubtless energized by what that legacy will be. If Bush were an honorable man that legacy would give him the same nightmares that wake so many of us up at those wee, dark hours, worrying about the future that awaits our children.

All Republicans should be thinking about the Bush Legacy; then they need to confront how Bush and his NeoCon administration has converted the legacy of the Republican Party, the party that championed freedom for Blacks and the vote for women into something closer to fascism.

When I first read, "Conscience of a Conservative," in 1962, being a Republican meant you believed in the right of the people to order their own lives and govern their own communities. Government was to be small; the inherent rights of individuals were sacrosanct, chiseled in stone through the Declaration of Independence. It was not government who was sovereign but each individual living American. My Goldwater button maintained a place of honor at my desk. In losing, Goldwater had still awakened a generation to the ideas of individual rights and freedom.

Many of us still kept the tradition of reading the Declaration in its entirely aloud to our families on the 4th of July. Each of my own children read out those words, standing tall and proud, knowing that the Revolution was fought for them. We knew that understanding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was the foundation that allowed future generations to keep faith with the past while building a better future for everyone. Our children could recite the Amendments and explain what they meant.

By hard work, honest dealing, and creative insights, we believed we would, together, realize the American dream. It was not making money that mattered but doing right. Integrity came first.

To lie was an act of personal dishonor for any reason. If your child lied any parent taught him that this was unacceptable. If you are a Republican today you know that the sense of honor, personally or in government, has no meaning. To the NeoCons only winning matters, and winning so you can steal became acceptable.

The NeoCons did this to us. If the Republican Party had closed up shop it could not have been used to against its own values. There can be honor in death. There is no honor in the actions taken under color of the Republican Party today.

The NeoCons now in control have been living out their inner most fantasies the last six years at our expense. It is tough to drive a country once as prosperous as America into bankruptcy, but they have managed that, too. Most of us now understand that those in power, the NeoCons, are not Republicans. They are a cadre of greedy who saw the opportunity to use the rhetoric of honor and our vision to steal for themselves and for their corporate employers. While rhetorically cloaking their actions in words like, "Freedom," "America," "Honor," and "Terrorism" Bush, Cheney and their cohort have been busily shoveling the wealth of America into the coffers of such as Halliburton and placing various petroleum companies to convert the reservoirs under Iraq into an asset line for their client companies, all at great cost all Americans and the world at large. Now, they are poised to do it again in Iran. After that, who knows; they may decide to hit Venezuela.

At the same time they have revoked parts of the Constitution in attempts to evade accountability; they have illegally used the force of government to invade our privacy. The information was gathered not to ensure our security but to stifle dissent.

That is where we are today. It is ugly to consider how many Americans and Iraqis have died while the rhetoric of honor still lingered in our hearts and minds, layered in like a cover to arsenic in speeches built to deceive us by prostituting our highest values. But that is what happened. Slowly, as Americans and Iraqis died horribly and our nation hemorrhaged money the stark horror began to sink in. Then, last November America delivered a mandate. That mandate was to get us out of Iraq and to return to the American values that evoke a true loyalty.

For those elected the message has also been delivered. Deescalate, investigate; end the war, bring our troops home. After the Shout Down that sent the newly elected Democratic Congress scampering like mice for cover we can hope the message has sunk in. Democratic activists are also challenging their leadership, having found them wanting.

We Republicans are not alone. All Americans have been through the same process of belief, doubt, and concern. We have all been paralyzed by fear as all we thought was true turned upside down. But it is the legacy of honor, conserved in the Republican Party, that was used as a weapon against the freedom of all Americans. As Bush considers his legacy, one of deception, greed, and violence, it is our own legacy we must renew.

As Republicans we need to take back our party, thus denying the NeoCons a conduit to power and allowing us to begin the work of rebuilding what was. Communities where people live, deciding for themselves, working at jobs, starting businesses, raising children whose education they control, worshiping and prospering by doing right, these were the goals that made us Republicans.

Barry Goldwater, the grandson of a peddler, understood hard work and doing the right thing. He understood accountability.

Barry Goldwater was a man who understood the need to take action. Never a fence sitter, Barry would have understood the specter we confront today; he would have delivered the word to the White House, Resign. Failing that, he would have himself written the Bill of Impeachment. He knew that the gravest danger to America came from within.

"Our tendency to concentrate power in the hands of a few men deeply concerns me. We can be conquered by bombs or by subversion; but we can also be conquered by neglect—by ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government. Our defenses against the accumulation of unlimited power in Washington are in poorer shape, I fear, than our defenses against the aggressive designs of Moscow. Like so many other nations before us, we may succumb through internal weakness rather than fall before a foreign foe."

As a Republican, I demand Bush and Cheney resign. I think now is a good time for that.

Republicans and other Americans can register their wishes by writing him letters to be delivered to the White House. If you like, you may send them first to The Iconoclast, where they will be counted, and then forwarded. Just send to Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, c/o The Lone Star Iconoclast, P.O. Box 569, Crawford, TX 76638. Then we can demand Congress pass a Bill of Impeachment NOW. Since Congress has been confused about what they are supposed to do, we can go to our state legislatures and demand they pass a Bill of Impeachment to be delivered to the Clerk of Congress. With 50 states to work with surely one can be persuaded to do the job.

Since Bush and Cheney have already admitted enough wrong-doing we can skip the investigations and move to the vote right away.

This generation of Republicans can do the job and the right man to sit in the Oval Office is a Republican all Americans can trust and respect. Replace Bush with a Republican Barry Goldwater would have respected, too. I think that individual is Congressman Ron Paul. It is our party, let’s do the right thing.