Sunday, August 29, 2004

Will they be ignored tomorrow? 

For hours, I have been glued to C-SPAN, watching decent people marching peacefully in the streets of New York City, exercising their constitutional right for a redress of grievances.

From across America they came -- young and old of every race and ethnicity -- to tell George W. Bush and the Republicans what they think of them and their wars, imperialism and injustices.

Four hours have now passed and a sea of humanity still fills Seventh Avenue, which runs past the Garden, as far as the eye can see. In the sweltering heat and humidity of a New York August day, the spirits of the demonstrators are still high and good-natured, even when confronted with handfuls of taunting Bush supporters on the sidewalks; Bush supporters protected by police.

Currently, a procession of people carrying flag-draped coffins -- representing the coffins of the fallen troops Bush did not want Americans to see -- is moving up Seventh Avenue toward the Garden, where the Republican National Convention will convene tomorrow.

From my vantage point, this has to be the biggest street demonstration the Big Apple has yet to see. But will it make a difference or will the Bushies and the GOP brush it off as a meaningless “focus group,” the way Bush brushed off the demonstrations that preceded his illegal invasion of Iraq? Will it be back to business tomorrow for the Republicans in the safety of the fortress atmosphere that will surround Madison Square Garden?

Will people across America see any of this if they aren’t watching C-SPAN? Will it make a difference if they do? Can we rid ourselves of Bush’s lies, fear and hate?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bush: Rich people don’t pay taxes 

Another bit of truth escaped George W. Bush’s mouth yesterday at a carefully vetted (read that supporters only) campaign rally in Virginia. Call it his Leona Helmsley moment, when he said taxing the rich was a failed strategy because “"the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

There you have it. Cutting taxes on the rich has nothing to do with helping the rest of us or the economy. It’s why bother since they have all those pricey lawyers and accountants, and can hide the money offshore?

Too bad George wasn’t around when Leona, the wife of New York real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley, drew prison time for tax fraud and evasion. He could have pardoned her on the spot. Leona, dubbed the Queen of Mean for the way she treated staff at the Helmsley hotels she ran, declared, “Only little people pay taxes.” The newsfakers had a field day with that one, but don’t expect any screaming headlines or television coverage of Bush's remark. Then, the network anchors all fall into “the really rich people” category.

Last week, at a signing ceremony for the $417 billion defense bill, Bush popped out with another bit of truth when he said, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

His record on harming the country and the people is impressive: 9/11, illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, tax cuts and more tax cuts for the rich, the highest deficits in history, an economy in the tank, more than 2 million jobs lost since he was handed the White House, letting what were good jobs be outsourced to lower paid workers in foreign countries, unconstitutionally giving taxpayer money to religious groups, taking away our freedoms and turning us into a police state, criminally leaking the name of a CIA operative, blowing the cover of an alleged double agent, destroying the environment, tearing up treaties, slapping our allies in the face, threatening Iran, Syria, North Korea and China, and working to overthrow Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba. This is a mountain of impeachable offenses, but neither the corporate trivia mills (a.k.a. corporate news media) nor anyone in Congress will say the I-word.

On the few occasions he tells the truth, his words are dismissed as a joke or that he “misspoke” himself. Jokes or misspoken words can have dire consequences—nay, catastrophic consequences. Ronald Reagan nearly found that out in 1984 when, not realizing he was before an open microphone, he sent the then Soviet Union into a tizzy with his quip, “My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." The Soviets didn’t find that funny, especially after he had called the USSR the “focus of evil” and an “evil empire” in a March 8, 1983, speech before the National Association of Evangelicals convention in Orlando, Fla.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Seeing through the latest terror alert 

Bushland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims his latest terrorism alert is not politically motivated, even though it served well to get the newly nominated Democratic presidential ticket of Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards replaced by photos of machine gun-toting cops on the nation's front pages. The alert also became Topic A for discussion just as questions about George W.'s Bush's mental state starting spreading across the Internet from Capitol Hill Blue and Online Journal. Some people took this terrorism warning more seriously than past ones because the intelligence supporting it supposedly contained much more specific information than previously. There were named targets, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Citicorp Center in Manhattan, Prudential Financial in New Jersey, and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, DC.

But while traffic in lower Manhattan was snarled by searches and barricades, there were early indications that this latest alert stank of politics: First Lady Laura Bush, Republican New York Governor George Pataki and Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the alleged terrorist target Citicorp Center, and the base of the Statue of Liberty was opened to the public for the first time since September 11, 2001. Then it was revealed that most of the intelligence underpinning this latest terrorism warning was years old; the most recent alleged al-Q'aeda "update" of the information occurred in January, over seven months ago.

Another clue about the political nature of this warning lies in the naming of the Citicorp Center as a terrorist target. If terrorists want to cripple that bank, in order to help crash the American economy before the elections, wrecking this particular building won't do it.

This writer has a friend who worked for Citigroup for over 20 years, until downsizing and outsourcing reached her department. She sent me an email stating that she thought the terrorist warning was BS, because anyone who knows the inner workings of Citigroup knows that Citicorp Center is irrelevant to the operations of Citibank! She noted that Citigroup only has the first seven floors of that building; the rest are leased. The US headquarters of this financial institution are in the suburbs, not in Manhattan.

She also suggested that if terrorists really wanted to harm Citigroup, the proper target would be India, where most of the processing and customer service operations for both the consumer and institutional bank are now located.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Fearmongers Bush & Cheney fear the people 

Do you want to see Bush or Cheney in person for some inexplicable reason? Well, if you’re a Democrat, it will cost you—not money, but your soul.

The price of a ticket to one of their campaign speeches is signing a pledge that you endorse Misleader Bush, after you supply your name, address, phone number, email address and driver’s license, as a group of Democrats in El Paso, Texas, found out when they wanted to attend a Cheney speech.

A Vietnam veteran said he also was asked if he belonged to a veterans’, pro-life, gun rights’ or teachers’ groups. What no proof of church affiliation or oaths stating you are not and never have been a terrorist or that you repent your evil liberalism?

And the reason given for this extortion and unwarranted invasion of privacy? “Secret Service stuff.”

Might Democrats be subjected to strip searches, too, to make sure they haven’t secreted an anti-Bush sign in their underwear; a sign that will later be pulled out and displayed to the TV cameras?

In Tucson, an organizer for a Cheney lie-fest there, demanded to know the race of Arizona Daily Star journalist Mamta Popat, who was assigned to photograph Vice Misleader Potty Mouth.

Calling the request “outrageous,” managing editor Teri Hayt refused to provide the information, as did two other editors GOP organizer Christine Walton had spoken to before she called Hayt.

Equally outrageous, Bush and Cheney require all reporters covering them to undergo a background check, which means their dates of birth and Social Security numbers must be disclosed, in addition to their names. The Star had complied with that “requirement” prior to Walton asking about the race of Ms. Popat, who happens to be of Indian ancestry.

The kicker was that Walton claimed it was necessary for the Secret Service to know Ms. Popat’s race in case someone else had the same name.

First it was herding protesters in protest pens, erroneously called First Amendment or Free Speech Zones, where Bush could neither see nor hear them. Then it was arresting protesters with valid tickets to his rallies, who dared display anti-Bush signs. Now it’s forcing people to sign oaths of loyalty to Bush in order to be allowed in the same arena with him or Cheney, and racial profiling.

Yet, people who get their “news” from the television trivia mills don’t have a clue how carefully vetted those Bush and Cheney rallies are; how afraid this dastardly duo are of the people. That big tent the GOP talks about is only for Republicans and Bush loyalists. The rest of America, keep out!


Vote of no confidence or another GOP trick? 

There are two ways to look at the flyers the Florida GOP sent out to some Republicans, advising them to apply for paper ballots because the new touchscreens provide not paper trail, then, after raising the ire of Gov. Jeb Bush, offering a lame apology, saying it regretted that the language in the flyer wasn’t clear.

Not clear? It couldn’t be much clearer: ''The liberal Democrats have already begun their attacks and the new electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount. Make sure your vote counts, order your absentee ballot today.''

So, was this the work of an individual or group within the party truly concerned about electronic voting systems that provide no auditable paper trail or a ruse the GOP thinks will cover its tracks when it steals the 2004 vote?

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