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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bravery, Sour Grapes, Sore Cheaters, and Elephant Turds

Two thumbs up to Barbara Boxer!

Barbara Boxer was courageous enough to stand with the Democratic Ohio representatives to challenge the electoral votes in Ohio this time around. Make sure to call her to say “thank you for having the courage to uphold real democracy.”

Her number is

(909) 888-8525 phone

(909) 888-8613 fax

Here’s her statement:

As all objective viewers of the 2004 election know, whether Americans or unofficial international observers reading the papers abroad, there were tens of thousands of incidents of so-called “irregularities” in voting, especially in the battleground states of Ohio and Florida.

No other democratic country, whether in “old Europe” or Israel or more recently democratized countries in South America would ever stand for the kind of elephant crap that happened in the 2000, 2002, or 2004 elections.

No other democratic country would even dream of allowing privatized secret software for computerized voting machines that have no paper trail.

Ohio’s Secretary of State Blackman did everything he could to marginalize Democratic voters, starting with the “80-lb paper” shenanigans (only voter registrations on 80-lb paper would be accepted, meaning registrations that were submitted after newspapers published voter registration forms, and the like would be ignored), continuing with the intentional lack of voting machines in heavily Democratic leaning districts, allowing bogus Republican “challenges” at polls, doing everything possible to interfere with voters either voting or having their votes counted… the list could take up the whole Internet.

It’s clear to everyone who wants to see it that there was interference with a clear, clean electoral process, and it was mostly—hell, almost entirely—carried out by Republicans.

Now that Boxer has had the courage to do what no senator did in 2000, the bad apples and sore cheaters in the GOP are calling it “grandstanding,” “sour grapes,” “sore losing.” Heh. Tom DeLay even called it “President Bush’s historic reelection,” and called Democrats who were questioning the fairness of the election followers of the “X-Files wing” of the Democratic party.

What a hero, eh?

Unfortunately, I can’t yet find his speech on the House floor today about it. Trust me, it was shameful, exclusionary, accusatory, and full of lies and misrepresentations. He, and they, consistently talk about integrity, rights, trust, all that highfalutin stuff, but will not acknowledge the concerns of millions of Americans about the sanctity of their votes. Nice.

So basically, the leadership of the GOP is going to pretend that everything was normal, the elections were fair and balanced, and that this is simply a political stunt by Democrats to take away Bush’s power and question his legitimacy. Of course, they should know, because that’s their standard operating procedure, but actually, they’re wrong.

This is about democracy here at home. Who the hell are we to talk about democracy in the world when 50 million Americans believe that there was something dreadfully wrong with the process here? And GOP leaders do everything in their power to sideline election reform, from insisting on NO PAPER TRAIL for, and NO FREE ACCESS TO THE CODE of electronic voting machines, not even acknowledging that electronic or not electronic voting machines were unevenly distributed in critical states like Florida and Ohio, and on and on and on.

Who screams the loudest about reform and fair play? The GOP leadership. Who does everything they can to avoid it? Same folks.

I do have some compassion for regular folks who don’t know who to believe, who don’t know where to find information, don’t know who to trust, or what have you. It’s inexcusable, but I have compassion for them.

But I can’t believe that the GOP leadership is fooled into believing their own lies and paranoia. It’s purposeful. It’s intentional. It’s a strategy. Don’t fall for it. And don’t let anyone get away with repeating it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Ethics is NOT a family value, apparently

Wow. So the GOP leadership has decided to can some of the most heinous ethics committee rule proposals. The changes would have allowed, specifically, Tom DeLay, who’s been slapped on the hand with serious ethics violations THREE times this year, to continue being the House Majority Leader despite ethics violations or convictions.

The stated reason? Because they don’t want to give the Democrats ammunition against them.

I’ll say that again because it really creates a context for the GOP leadership’s behavior. The primary reason was to prevent the Democrats from using it as ammunition against the Republican leadership and the Republican members of the ethics committee.

If something sounds vaguely wrong to you about that, it’s most likely this: The problem wasn’t that it’s unethical to change ethics rules to allow unethical people to continue positions of legislative leadership (legislative means LAW-MAKING, by the way, not law-breaking, and you might expect law makers to have some respect for the law) , but the problem was that being unethical—in the ethics committee, no less—gave unwanted ammunition to their opponents.

Wow. I’m floored. I shouldn’t be, but it’s just sooooo flagrant and ironic.

And the flagrant irony doesn’t even end there…

There’s a pattern here.

Take a good, close look at the last 30 years’ history of American politics. Over the last four it’s even worse. The Republican party has consistently showed a knack for the nastiest, dirtiest political tricks in history. Hell, Karl Rove even used to teach classes to young brown shirt Republicans on Nixon-style dirty tricks. Do some reading on Rove. He learned it from Nixon and Lee Atwater, and others—in addition to apparently having lots of hatred left over from having been an angry, pudgy, socially retarded teen.

The ostensible reason the GOP leadership gave for the rule changes in the ethics committee in the first place was that they were afraid of Democratic usage of ethics investigations for political purposes. Hm. Remember a guy named Clinton? I do, and I hope your memory’s not so short that you don’t. If that was ANYTHING other than a political witch hunt, then Tom DeLay’s ass cheeks are made of green cheese—from France.

Adversaries of Karl Rove—especially in Texas, where he set up shop for years—have wound up on the wrong side of ethics investigations for piddling technicalities or rumors so many times that it might as well be the punch line for a kid’s knock-knock joke. It’s standard operating procedure for him. There’s even a law enforcement guy in Texas who pretty much does full time investigations of ethics violations. All—or nearly all—on Democrats, apparently. Now, sure politicians are a crooked breed, but who can possibly believe that Democrats are so much worse in Texas that investigators only have time to investigate Dems. Right…

As I said, the alleged reason for the rules changes was to avoid misuse of the process for political attacks. Remember the International Criminal Court? The official reason Republicans (especially) hate—or fear—it is that they believe it would be misused to prosecute Americans for political reasons. Of course, America has done many things over they years to provide decades of legitimate investigation by a criminal court, whether you start in Iran during the 1950s, Chile in the 1970s, or a whole host of other examples. Which makes the unofficial reason that Republicans don’t believe in accountability—especially for other Republicans like Kissinger and pals.

So-called conservatives complain that if they don’t use dirty tricks, that liberals will. So it’s self-defense. Bullies (and politicians) have used that one on playgrounds throughout eternity. I think on the ground level, it’s become a type of paranoia that so-called conservatives believe that so-called family and American values are under attack, and that everyone is out to get them, get their money, get their kids, churches, jobs, what have you. I believe it’s sincere. I believe everyday people are truly afraid of these things. But I also believe that at the upper levels of right-wing politics, this fear is created, fostered, and nurtured by people like Karl Rove because it rallies the people who feel threatened to action, and creates a smokescreen for further, intentional blurring of the limits of ethical political behavior.

At about the same moment, President Bush pleaded for a reduction in partisanship on the hill, and expressed his hopes that Dems and Republicans could work together for the benefit of the American people.

The energy bills, campaign finance reform, Medicare prescription reform, and pretty much all other bills passed through congress these last four years have been created in closed Republican committees, which means there was NO Democratic input, and forced through congress using sheer numbers and strong-arm tactics. Thousand page bills were released hours before a forced vote, not allowing time for congress members to even thoroughly investigate what they were told to vote on by GOP leadership.

Check the congressional and senate record for hundreds of instances of these and other totally and completely anti-democracy and exclusionary tactics. One of the ethics violations DeLay was chided for was misusing House rules to keep open a vote on the Medicare bill for hours (rather than the standard minutes), and bribing then threatening a Republican congressman to change his vote.

And all the while, Republican leadership and attack dogs are screaming about obstructionist Democrats. It’s perfect. And people believe it because they either don’t have time to check out the facts, or don’t want to.

Yes, Republicans are afraid that Democrats will use ethics committees for political gain—because that is what Republicans in particular have done, increasing at a terrifying rate, for years. They are afraid that someone will use their own weapons against them, whether in international circles through the ICC, or here at home, with ethics committees and investigations.

All this and so much more comes from the self-declared defenders of Decency™, Ethics™, the American Soul™, and so-called Family Values™.