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Still A Democrat

Image of Dianne Feinstein

Much has been written recently about the country’s huge disappointment in the Democratic-controlled Congress, which continues to enable the dysfunction of Imperial President George Bush.

Congress has an 11 percent approval rating, according to one poll. More Republicans approve of the “work” Congress is doing than Democrats. The Republicans effectively own the Democrats right now. The Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are not large enough to counter ultra-conservative Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (California), who has emerged as a Bush sycophant.

As Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald points out, Feinstein is the face of what is discouragingly wrong with the Democratic Party right now. She is a 74-year-old politician with absolutely nothing to lose politically. She represents California, a blue state. She is filthy rich. She could and should retire tomorrow and live a life of luxury. So why does she vote consistently with Republicans against her own party’s base? How does such a person qualify herself just in terms of consistency and logic alone?

As Greenwald points out, “What is so notable — and most revealing — about this is that Feinstein is a Democratic Senator from one of the most liberal states in the country. Conventional wisdom holds that she is a ‘liberal’ or at least a moderate. She came onto the national scene in the 1980s as the Mayor of San Francisco, one of the most liberal large cities in the nation, and was twice re-elected by San Francisco residents. In fairness, she casts some (usually futile) votes in favor of the standard Democratic agenda on issues such as the environment, gun control and the Military Commissions Act. And she’ll listlessly participate in investigations that go nowhere, even when the White House defies or outright ignores subpoenas. But what she does with the greatest conviction is supports right-wing Bush measures and, above all else, is an ardent defender of the Beltway power establishment.”

Last week, she voted to condemn the anti-war organization, Moveon.org, for running an advertisement critical of Gen. David Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, who recently pushed Bush and GOP talking points when he testified about the occupation. She has voted to ban habeas corpus in this country. Her husband is a defense contractor. She is a typical Beltway politician who is not distinguishable from most Republicans. She possesses no moral center in her politics.

Along with Feinstein, here are the Democratic Senators who voted against the basic concept of free speech in America by condemning the Moveon.org for publishing an advertisement critical of Petraeus: Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Bob Casey Jr., Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Tim Johnson, Amy Klobuchar, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Patrick Leahy, Blanche Lincoln, Claire McCaskill, Barbara Mikulski, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Ken Salazar, John Tester and Jim Webb.

These politicians have enshrined Petraeus as the quintessential Military Man of Integrity. In October, 2008, when he spouts more lies to Congress right before the elections, the Democrats will not be able to say a thing about him. You cannot celebrate a person’s integrity and then question his/her veracity later. It is simple logic.

All of this is quite discouraging, of course, and many Democrats are now pondering this personal question: Do I bail on the Democrats and become an independent knowing this may well give the 2008 national elections to the Republicans or do I stay and fight to reframe the values and ideals of the party?

Here is the only answer to that question: Fight. Fight to defeat politicians like Feinstein—and all the Democrats who voted against free speech last week—within the structure of the party. Defeat them in primary elections with real Democratic candidates. Californians could also urge Feinstein to retire. Only a Democratic sweep in the 2008 national elections will prevent this country from adopting some type of totalitarian government, which will no doubt be called “Thompson’s Freedom Pact” or some similar distorted slogan. Only a Democratic president and wider Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will stop the insidious extremism and intellectual reductionism of the neoconservatives.

In Oklahoma, one of the reddest of red states, this dilemma is exasperated tenfold. The corporate media here works openly to stifle real political debate. Yet there are brilliant points of light even here. For example, State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City) is running against GOP tyrant U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. Rice is a true progressive who has opposed the Iraq occupation from the beginning. He represents a new generation of Democratic politicians who want to restore the integrity and the “difference” of the party when compared to the Republicans.

And it is okay to vent despite the weird arguments of people like Randi Rhodes, the Air America radio show host who would not allow her callers on Friday to complain about how Democrats voted with Republicans to stifle free speech. (She made quite a spectacle of herself, throwing out the f-bomb in the process.) It is paramount we mount massive campaigns to get politicians like Feinstein removed from office because we must change the party’s direction. But we must not ever forget this is part of the larger effort to fight Republicans, stop the occupation, restore fiscal sanity to government, provide decent health care to Americas, raise stagnant wages and bring back habeas corpus.

Oklahomans Should Support Ballot Reform

Image from www.oldamericancentury.org

(On Friday, September 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Gold Dome Multicultural Center, N.W. 23 Street and Classen Avenue, local students will display decorated pinwheels for peace. This is a non-partisan event that simply asks students “to reflect on peace: A state of calm and tranquility, with no anxiety or violence." Read more about it in this post.)

Open Up The Ballot

An initiative petition drive that could lead to easier access for third-party candidates to run for office deserves our support.

Oklahoma has one of the most restrictive laws in the country when it comes to third party candidates. Right now, it takes 43,325 petition signatures to get a third party’s candidates recognized on the ballot. The petition supporters want to reduce that to 5,000 and to retain the party recognition if a particular third-party, statewide candidate gets 1 percent or more of the vote.

Supporters of the petition drive, Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform, have 90 days to get 74,117 signatures. If they are successful, voters would decide the issue in an election.

The Oklahoma Green Party, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Constitution Party and independents are supporting the drive.

The political process in this country is broken. It is a system based entirely on money and is ultimately operated by the corporate-military complex. That is why we have a lousy health care system in this country. That is why we are mired in a senseless military occupation. That is why our bridges and roads have become dilapidated. That is why we have stagnant wages.

Allowing easy access for candidates to get on the ballot is one of many steps Americans and Oklahomans can take to ensure regular people have a voice in the political process.

General DID Betray Us

It should be repeated over and over: Once you commit to a celebratory position about a person’s integrity, you cannot logically dispute his/her arguments when they are lies.

Do national Democrats simply fail to understand that most elementary rhetorical rule? I guess not. Prominent Democrats from John Kerry to Bill Richardson to Joe Biden to Barack Obama have rushed to defend the integrity of one of the most political generals in American history, David Petraeus, who testified about the Iraq occupation before Congress last week.

But the general, who commands all the American troops in Iraq, is obviously participating in a political ruse designed to buy Imperial President George Bush more time for his senseless Iraq military occupation. Why not just keep silent? Why let the Republicans define the issue yet one more time?

The Iraq occupation last week became all about an advertisement by Moveon.org that clearly showed Petraeus has no integrity. But those poor, abused Republicans thought it went too far. One-by-one the Democrats either disavowed the ad (to her credit, Hillary Clinton did not) or expressed their undying admiration of the general. It was a disheartening and sickening display of typical Washington politics.

Petraeus was an important component of a political maneuver by Bush and his neoconservative cronies to continue the occupation and thus hand over the quagmire to the next president.

Why won’t the Democrats fight? Millions of Americans have been asking that question for years now. Why won’t the Democrats fight? What goes through the minds of all these highly-paid political consultants who continue to lose election after election for Democrats while bringing our country to the precipice of fascism. Why won’t they fight? Are they scared, apathetic, dumb, too rich to care? Do they not understand voters respond viscerally to candidates, and right now voters want strong politicians who can stand up to the Bushbot bullies and that includes the liar Petraeus.

If last week does not show you that Republicans continue to control the message and can easily sweep the national elections in 2008, then you are not paying attention.

Let me take you into your very possible future. It’s September 19, 2009. Fred Thompson is president and the House and Senate on both the federal and state level have clear Republican majorities. The Iraq occupation drags on with no end in sight, and now we’re fighting in Iran, too. Every aspect of our private lives—our phone calls, emails, personal conversations—is scrutinized by Republican government operatives. More people are without health insurance than ever. The richest one percent of Americans own even more of the wealth and land in the country. American and foreign prisoners are routinely tortured on the slimmest evidence of wrongdoing. In Oklahoma, government has become completely privatized. Our bridges are collapsing and huge potholes on our highways go unrepaired, causing accidents that kill and injure. Gasoline is $10 a gallon. National Guardsmen patrol state borders and make sure everyone has a long-list of required documents proving they are citizens. If you do not have the required ten documents then it is off to jail with you for some good ol’ American torture complete with sexual humiliation and waterboarding that may or may not result in your death.

Pinwheels For Peace
A brave dude for peace

American children growing up today have been taught on some level by the neoconservative Republican juggernaut that war and military occupation are good things.

Imperial President George Bush and the contemporary GOP teaches this: War is good; peace is bad.

This overall philosophical message, unless countered by self-aware parents, will no doubt have some lasting effect on children. The Iraq invasion and ensuing occupation is in its fifth year with no end in sight. Will these children be prone to more violence? Will they dismiss—like Bush and the Republicans—the ideas of reconciliation and negotiation in their personal lives? Will they understand that peace is actually an attribute to be celebrated and admired.

None of this is to take away from the suffering of the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children who have been injured or displaced, but the long, gruesome occupation takes a psychological toll here among children as well. (Click on the image to the right, and then click again to view a short flash movie about how Iraqi children have suffered.)

On Friday, September 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Gold Dome Multicultural Center, N.W. 23 Street and Classen Avenue, local students will display decorated pinwheels for peace. This is a non-partisan event that simply asks students “to reflect on peace: A state of calm and tranquility, with no anxiety or violence.”

The event is part of the national Pinwheels For Peace program.

Inhofe Stays The Course, Puts Banks Above Oklahoma Students

Image of Jim Inhofe

(Are you sick and tired of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe's bizarre comments on global warming and the Iraq occupation? Then click here to elect State Sen. Andrew Rice, a progressive Democrat who is running against Inhofe in the 2008 election.  Let's send Inhofe into retirement and take this state back for the people.)

Even Oklahoma's corporate power structure believes the state needs more college graduates, but do not count on U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe to help out.

Inhofe was one of just twelve U.S. Senators who recently voted against a bill to expand federal aid for college students.  President George Bush has said he will sign the bill, which passed the Senate 79-12 and the House 292-97.  The extra funding will be financed by cutting fees to banks on loans provided to students.

Oklahoma lags behind the nation in the number of college graduates.  The state's corporate media outlets often bemoan the fact the state's two major metropolitan areas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, do not have enough educated, highly-skilled workers to attract or sustain businesses. This bill provides better access to loans for students and will increase the state's business viability.

So why did Inhofe vote against the bill, even though many Republicans supported the measure?

Inhofe is a shill for big corporations, including major banks and oil companies.  He has completely lost touch with ordinary Oklahomans, who have faced skyrocketing college tuition in recent years.  He has "gone Washington."  He rewards big corporations as he denigrates ordinary Oklahomans trying to go to college.

A highly partisan extremist, Inhofe fails to take into account Oklahoma's particular needs and issues.

According to Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairperson Ivan Holmes in a recent statement, "Inhofe continues to paint himself as a 'true' conservative and deficit hawk, but his rhetoric doesn't match his actions and this vote once again proves it.  Inhofe could have voted to reduce the deficit and help average families, but instead he sided with the banking industry. The latest Federal Election Commission report indicates that Inhofe received $10,000 from the American Bankers Association PAC so far in 2007."

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