Friday, November 02, 2007

On the continuing splintering of the GOP

Much has been written already of the pending divorce of the Christians from the Republicans, and I've posted the most articulate report previously.

One of the more fascinating things about watching the fracturing of the various coalitions comprising the Republican Party has been the story behind the phenomenon of the rise of Ron Paul. Primarily viral and online, he has captured a toehold on the conservative psyche like few have in the past several years:

... Paul's popularity can't necessarily be explained by a previously undetected craving for gold-standard debates on college campuses. His message, even if packaged in obscure economic lectures, is that there is something very corrupt, very Halliburton-Blackwatery going on with our military-industrial complex, and that can attract some pretty weird followers. At the Iowa State event, a student stood outside in a tricornered hat and Revolutionary War–era suit, ringing a bell. Representative Tom Tancredo, another long-shot G.O.P. candidate, tells me that after a debate in New Hampshire, one of his staffers walked up to a guy in a shark costume and asked him if he was a Ron Paul supporter. "No. They're all nuts," replied the shark. "I'm just a guy in a shark suit." There is a subset of Paul supporters who believe 9/11 was an inside job by the U.S. government. And there are anarchists as well: They've picked Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes Day, for a fund-raising drive.

Even when Dr. No ran as a Libertarian for president in 1988 he wasn't as popular a figure as he is today. In truth he speaks to the strain of conservatives who do not favor the corporate brand Bush and Cheney have made so (un)popular. These anti-establishment conservatives are represented in polling as being in the majority with many of us on the left: they don't favor endless war in Iraq and Afghanistan, don't favor government surveillance and expanded executive branch authority, and they do not support local issues that give government and huge corporations more public assets (like the the Trans-Texas Corridor). They remain beholders of much of Republican orthodoxy, such as a Grover Norquist opinion of government and a xenophobic worldview, but they part company in so many places that it's fair to view them as a distinct and growing subset within the conservative ranks.

(Pausing to discuss the labeling: "anti-establishment" and "establishment" Republicans are clumsy terms and don't do descriptive justice to the dividing groups. They defy compartmentalization, but I'll still use the labels for the ease of making this observation.)

Make no mistake, though: the establishment Republicans -- corporate, pro-war, supportive of Bush and Cheney's assault on the Constitution via the unitary executive concept -- remain in the vanguard of Republican party control. They are represented by the concentric circles occupied by Rudy Giuliani and Rick Perry; it's worth observing that the international law firm of Bracewell Giuliani represents the Spanish corporation CINTRA, which is one of the primary contractors of the Trans-Texas Corridor, which is Rick Perry's prized "public/private initiative".

Now that's fascism at its finest. But I won't digress.

What's really amusing is to observe the two factions calling each other RINOS. If, for example, Kay Bailey Hutchison votes for SCHIP, she's a RINO. If Chuck Hagel doesn't support the war, he doesn't support the troops and he's a traitor and so on. If John McCain can't buy Attorney General-designate Mike Mukasey's quavering on the definition of torture any better than any of the Democratic senators on the Judiciary committee, but still wants to follow Osama to the gates of hell and shoot him ... well, you get the picture.

That last example is just so confusing for most Republican voters.

Fortunately though many people left and right do get it, and the rejection of corporate politics is fast growing within the Democratic ranks as well (and a bit ahead of the GOP, naturally).

Still, Republicans were the ruling party in this country for too many years. They aren't any longer, and just over a year from now will really have a lot to to whine about, but the majority party won't be the Democratic Party, either; the majority will be the Democrats and Republicans who continue to represent the special interests rather than the public interest. They will take millions from corporate lobbyists and pass tort reform and earmark pork for useless projects back home and claim to be something they are not -- representative of the people. And the people understand this: it's why you regularly hear "both parties are just the same", "why can't you guys just get along", "my vote doesn't matter" and so on and so forth. Usually these words are coming out of the mouths of people who don't vote, naturally.

And this goes to the heart of my inability to support Hillary Clinton as the nominee: she's politics as business as usual, the same as Giuliani. Because people on both sides of the spectrum get this, that's why there will be independent and third-party presidential challengers in 2008 if we wind up with those two as the nominees. Not because they aren't different enough -- certainly they are -- but because they're too much alike.

A rather substantial number of Americans don't favor the status quo, or the America the Republicans and Democrats have given them. They want fundamental change, not a mouthpiece.

They still may not get that kind of change next year, but it certainly looks like they'll have more choices for change than we've had in a long time. And not John-Anderson, Ross-Perot, Ralph Nader-style choices. Real legitimate choices.

At least I hope they -- we -- do.

The latest right-wing e-mail smear

Remember the e-mail strings of lies we were talking about earlier, the ones that continually circulate through your brother-in-law's inbox? Here's the latest, and yes, it's regarding Hillary Clinton:


"I would share the following link that came to me from a friend. Taking for granted that he's not particularly a Clinton enthusiast, still the accompanying video is worth your investment of 13 minutes. Taken as a whole it is incredible nearly to the point of unbelievability. I checked it out on Snopes but there is no reference whatever to this story, the Paul lawsuit, the 2000 $1.2MM fund raiser, or any part of what you'll see. In light of the magnitude of the story, that fact alone is puzzling."

"Whatever, watch it and make up your own mind whether it's relevant to you and your potential choice for President of the United States or not. Or even whether it's worth sharing with others who might find it interesting."

"I suggest you watch this immediately before the Clintons have it removed from the internet..."

Hillary Uncensored - Banned by the Media

Now most of the people who receive e-mail of this kind are on dial-up connections, so they won't be able to view the video. But you can read about Peter Paul at his Wiki entry. I'll summarize:

Paul emerged in 2000 as the largest contributor to Senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton. Paul and his attorneys have at various times offered two explanations for this. First, that he was trying to attract her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, to serve on the board of Stan Lee Media after leaving office. Second, that he hoped to negotiate a pardon for his previous criminal convictions.[21][22] Paul produced and underwrote what he described as the largest fund raising event ever held for a federal candidate [23], in Los Angeles, days before the 2000 Democratic Convention began. The Hollywood Farewell Gala Salute to President William Jefferson Clinton featured prominent entertainers singing for the President, while raising over $1 million for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.[24] The event cost $1.9 million to organize according to Paul and $500,000 according to the Federal Election Commission filing, much of it borrowed fraudulently by Paul from Merrill Lynch. Later indictments would state that Merrill Lynch lost about $5 million it had lent to Paul.[22]

Two days after the gala, the Washington Post publicized Paul's criminal record, and Hillary Clinton denied knowing Paul and "vowed not to take any contributions from him". Through her official spokesman, Howard Wolfson, Hillary stated on August 16, 2000 that she would return $2,000 she reported receiving from Paul in June 2000,[22] and would not have anything further to do with him.

Paul alleged that Clinton was deceitful in this,[25] and retained public interest law firm, and frequent Clinton opponent, Judicial Watch to represent him in a series of civil and criminal lawsuits against the Clintons, the Clinton campaign, and ultimately the Federal Election Commission (which he charged was negligent in failing to convict Mrs. Clinton).[26][27][28][29] These charges were delayed, as courts held that Paul could not bring charges against the Clintons as he fought extradition from Brazil,[30] but proceeded once he was returned to the States.[31]

The Clinton campaign was ultimately asked to pay $35,000 in fines for having underreported the cost of the gala.[32] Paul's suit against the FEC was thrown out; his attempt to bring ethics charges against Clinton were rejected,[33] and his fraud charges against Senator Clinton were tossed out in April 2006.[34] As of April 2007[35], Paul's civil charges against Senator Clinton and former President Clinton for "looting"[36] his business remained outstanding.

Peter Paul, a career criminal, sues everyone that he gets even remotely involved with -- or else he steals from them and then sues them. The GOP has been reduced to using a chronic and habitual felon to carry their latest message of hate, lies and distraction.

Has the supply of honest Republicans been exhausted by their 15-year smear machine? I'm surprised the inventory lasted as long as it did.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

CNN examines noose displays

In a special report broadcast this evening at 7 p.m. (Central) CNN will air "The Noose: An American Nightmare":

Do all the incidents of hanging nooses -- many with hateful notes to their intended black audience -- reveal an ugly truth about race relations in the United States, or are they just stupid pranks by a few foolish, attention-starved people?

Oh, Jesus. I hope this isn't going to be a 'fair and balanced' account.

And days before Halloween, a Stratford, Connecticut, woman reluctantly removed from her yard a dark-hued figure hanging from a noose. It was among numerous innocuous lawn decorations, such as ghosts and a plastic grave marker. "It's unfortunate that now, we're goingto have to think twice about what we display because someone might be offended," Jennifer Cervero told CNN.

Yes, how unfortunate for you to be inconvenienced by tolerance, Ms. Cervero. Back to some actual news:

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, said that the apparent increase in noose incidents is, in part, reaction to the news coverage of the "Jena 6".

Since September, the SPLC has recorded between 40 and 50 suspected hate crimes involving nooses, one involving two people traveling the road to Jena during the protests in a pickup truck with nooses affixed to the bumper.

"Tens of thousands of white people, if not more, feel that the events in Jena were grossly misportrayed by a politically correct media that twisted what was [to them], really, a six-on-one, black-on-white hate crime into an instance of the oppression of black people," Potok said. "That accounts, in part, for a backlash."

And then there's the well-documented effect in the "corporate" environment:

While the Department of Justice doesn't keep track of noose-specific offenses, the government published a report in 2000 showing an increase of nooses in professional environments.

And The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the race-baiting technique still creeps up in professional environments. There have been at least 20 lawsuits involving nooses in the workplace since 2001.

Of the 5,500 racial harassment charge filings in 2006, anecdotal information from EEOC field offices suggests that some involved nooses, but the agency is unable to quantify that data, according to EEOC spokesman David Grinberg.

On Wednesday, seven black workers employed by an Oklahoma-based drilling company won a $290,000 settlement in a discrimination lawsuit which claimed they felt threatened by the display of a noose on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig.

"It's time for corporate America to be more proactive in preventing and eliminating racist behavior," said EEOC Chairwoman Naomi C. Earp. "The EEOC intends to make clear that race and color discrimination in the workplace, whether verbal or behavioral, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Don't miss the special broadcast this evening.

Constitutional amendments: an opposing viewpoint

My man David offers a his usual cogent opinion on the Texas constitutional amendments appearing on next Tuesday's ballot -- or sooner than that if you're an early voter. He endorses several 'against' votes, including Propositions 12 ($5 billion in bonds to be issued to the TxDOT for road maintenance) and 15 ($3 billion for a new cancer research and prevention facility). I'll excerpt his analysis on those two below and refer you to Bluedaze, who has the full list:


Proposition 12 – I begin with Proposition 12 because it is the worst of the worst. In this proposition, we are being asked to amend Article III, Section 49 of the Constitution in order to permit the Texas Department of Transportation to sell 5 billion dollars worth of bonds. This is the same agency that today, this very day, is cynically and arrogantly using your and my tax dollars in a high-pressure marketing campaign designed by a political consulting firm to convince us that we want toll roads; in complete disregard of the fact that government is supposed to follow the will of the people, not the other way around. This is the same agency that intends to tear up our beautiful Texas with the most gigantic land grab in history, the Trans-Texas Corridor, so that Texas will turn from a state into a highway and the people and farms of Texas will turn into the highway’s butlers. This is the same agency that Slick Rick Perry uses as his personal toy for the pleasure of the special interests, both domestic and international, whose moneys are expected to continue funding the political ambitions of Slick Rick and his new patron, Rudy Guliani (and it is such a coincidence that the international corporate law firm of Bracewell Guliani is legal counsel to CINTRA). Let’s put it this way – if you trust TXDOT and Rick Perry, then by all means do cast your vote to amend the Texas Constitution to allow TXDOT to indebt your children to paying off 5 billion dollars more for TXDOT to build toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor with. But if you don’t think TXDOT and Rick Perry have earned your trust, then get off your duff and tell everyone you can think of to vote against Proposition 12.

Proposition 15 – This Amendment of Article III of the Texas Constitution would authorize the issuance of up to 3 billion dollars in bonds for a new Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, to research the causes and prevention of cancer. There is no doubt in my mind that it would a good thing to have this. However, I object to the borrow-and-spend philosophy. The State of Texas has a fiscal surplus and could pay for this project out of general revenues without selling bonds. The interest on 3 billion dollars in bonds will be 1.6 billion dollars. Thus the project is not a 3 billion dollar project, it is a 4.6 billion dollar project, to be paid for by future taxpayers. No explanation has been offered as to why the legislature did not fund this project directly out of the existing fiscal surplus. I submit that the explanation is the political convenience of passing the responsibility for spending decisions off to the future. The Texas Cancer Prevention and Research Institute is a worthy project for Texas. It is worthy of being paid for directly out of existing general revenues, rather than engaging in the scam of selling bonds. The corporate law firms that prepare governmental bond issues pull in very large fees in one of the most atrocious rackets in the legal-governmental world. Those same law firms often make large political donations out of their law firm PACs. This proposed bond issue is very likely another example of the hogs wallowing deep in the public troughs while claiming all kinds of feel-good notions to gain themselves entry. Tell the legislature to come back in 2009 and fund this project straight up in the open, as it deserves. Vote NO to passing the buck.


Again, read all of the Van Os endorsements at Bluedaze.